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_ Cornell University Library 

B 3312.E52L66 


The complete works of Fredrich Nietzsche 

3 1924 021 569 151 

NOV 3 2003 


'B Cornell University 
B Library 

The original of tliis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

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the United States on the use of the text. 924021 5691 51 




First Complete and Authorised English Translation 
in Eighteen Volumes 





Of the First Edition of 

One Thousand Five Hundred 

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Printed at The Darien Press, Edinbnrgh. 



Translator's Preface vii 

1. The Greek State — Preface to an unwritten 

book(i87i) I 

2. The Greek Woman — Fragment (187 1) 19 

3. On Music and Words — Fragment (1871) 27 

4. Homer's Contest — Preface to an unwritten 

book (1872) - - 49 

5. The Relation of Schopenhauer's Philo- 

sophy TO A German Culture — Preface to 

an unwritten book (1872) 63 

6. Philosophy During the Tragic Age of the 

Greeks (1873) 71 

7. On Truth and Falsity in their ultramoral 

sense (1873) 171 


The essays contained in this volume treat of various 
subjects. With the exception of perhaps one we 
must consider all these papers as fragments. Written 
during the early Seventies, and intended mostly as 
prefaces, they are extremely interesting, since traces 
of Nietzsche's later tenets — like Slave and Master 
morality, the Superman — can be found everywhere. 
But they are also very valuable on account of the 
young philosopher's daring and able handling of 
difficult and abstruse subjects. " Truth and Falsity," 
and " The Greek Woman " are probably the two 
essays which will pi'ove most attractive to the aver- 
age reader. 

In the essay on The GREEK State the two tenets 
mentioned above are clearly discernible, though the 
Superman still goes by the Schopenhauerian label 
" genius." Our philosopher attacks the modern 
ideas of the " dignity of man " and of the " dignity 
of labour," because Existence seems to be without 
worth and dignity. The preponderance of such 
illusory ideas is due to the political power nowadays 
vested in the " slaves." The Greeks saw no dignity 
in labour. They saw the necessity of it, and the 
necessity of slavery, but felt ashamed of both. Not 
even the labour of the artist did they admire, 
although they praised his completed work. 

viii translator's preface 

If the Greeks perished through their slavery, one 
thing is still more certain : we shall perish through 
the lack of slavery. To the essence of Culture 
slavery is innate. It is part of it. A vast multitude 
must labour and " slave " in order that a few may 
lead an existence devoted to beauty and art. 

Strife and war are necessary for the welfare of 
the State. War consecrates and purifies the State. 
The purpose of the military State is the creating 
of the military genius, the ruthless conqueror, the 
War-lord. There also exists a mysterious connec- 
tion between the State in general and the creating 
of the genius. 

In The Greek Woman, Nietzsche, the man who 
said, " One cannot think highly enough of women," 
delineates his ideal of woman. Penelope, Antigone, 
Electra are his ideal types. 

Plato's dictum that in the perfect State the 
family would cease to exist, belongs to the most 
intimate things uttered about the relation between 
women and the State. The Greek woman as mother 
had to vegetate in obscurity, to lead a kind of Cran- 
fordian existence for the greater welfare of the body 
politic. Only in Greek antiquity did woman occupy 
her proper position, and for this reason she was 
more honoured than she has ever been since. Pythia 
was the mouthpiece, the symbol of Greek unity. 

On Music and Words. Music is older, more 
fundamental than language. Music is an expres- 
sion of cosmic consciousness. Language is only a 

It is true the music of every people was at first 
allied to lyric poetry ; " absolute music " always 


appeared much later. But that is due to the double 
nature in the essence of language. The tone of 
the speaker expresses the basic pleasure- and dis- 
pleasure-sensations of the individual. These form 
the tonal subsoil common to all languages ; they 
are comprehensible everywhere. Language itself 
is a super-structure on that subsoil ; it is a gesture- 
symbolism for all the other conceptions which man 
adds to that subsoil. 

The endeavour to illustrate a poem by music is 
futile. The text of an opera is therefore quite 
negligible. Modern opera in its music is therefore 
often only a stimulant or a remembrancer for set, 
stereotyped feelings. Great music, i.e., Dionysean 
music, makes us forget to listen to the words. 

Homer's Contest. The Greek genius acknow- 
ledged strife, struggle, contest to be necessary in 
this life. Only through competition and emulation 
will the Common-Wealth thrive. Yet there was no 
unbridled ambition. Everyone's individual endea- 
vours were subordinated to the welfare of the com- 
munity. The curse of present-day contest is that it 
does not do the same. 

In The Relation of Schopenhauer's Philo- 
sophy TO a German Culture an amusing and 
yet serious attack is made on the hollow would-be 
culture of the German Philistines who after the 
Franco-Prussian war were swollen with self-conceit, 
self-sufficiency, and were a great danger to real Cul- 
ture. Nietzsche points out Schopenhauer's great 
philosophy as the only possible means of escaping 
the humdrum of Philistia with its hypocrisy and 
intellectual ostrichisation, 


Tragic Age is a performance of great interest to 
the scholar. It brims with ideas. The Hegelian 
School, especially Zeller, has shown what an im- 
portant place is held by the earlier thinkers in the 
history of Greek thought and how necessary a 
knowledge of their work is for all who wish to 
understand Plato and Aristotle. Diels' great book : 
" Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker ", Benn's, Bur- 
net's and Fairbanks' books we may regard as the 
peristyle through which we enter the temple of Early 
Greek Philosophy. Nietzsche's essay then is like 
a beautiful festoon swinging between the columns 
erected by Diels and the others out of the marble 
of facts. 

Beauty and the personal equation are the two 
" leitmotive " of Nietzsche's history of the pre-So- 
cratian philosophers. Especially does he lay stress 
upon the personal equation, since that is the only 
permanent item of interest, considering that every 
" System " crumbles into nothing with the appear- 
ance of a new thinker. In this way Nietzsche 
treats of Tkales, Anaximander, Heraditus, Parmeni- 
des,Xenophanes, Anaxagoras. There are also some 
sketches of a draft for an intended but never accom- 
plished continuation, in which Empedocles, Demo- 
critus and Plato were to be dealt with. 

Probably the most popular of the Essays in this 
book will prove to be the one on TRUTH AND 
Falsity. It is an epistemological rhapsody on the 
relativity of truth, on " Appearance and Reality," 
on " perceptual flux " versus — " conceptual conceit." 

Man's intellect is only a means in the struggle for 


existence, a means taking the place of the animal's 
horns and teeth. It adapts itself especially to de- 
ception and dissimulation. 

There are no absolute truths. Truth is relative 
and always imperfect. Yet fictitious values fixed 
by convention and utility are set down as truth. 
The liar does not use these standard coins of the 
realm. He is hated ; not out of love for truth, no, 
but because he is dangerous. 

Our words never hit the essence, the " X " of ^ 
thing, but indicate only external characteristics. J 
Language is the columbarium of the ideas, th^ 
cemetery^ of perceptions. ' 

Truths are metaphors, illusions, anthropomorph- 
isms about which one has forgotten that they are 
such. There are different truths to different beings. 
Like a spider man sits in the web of his truths and 
ideas. He wants to be deceived. By means of 
error he mostly lives ; truth is often fatal. When 
the liar, the story-teller, the poet, the rhapsodist lie 
to him without hurting him he — loves them ! — 

The text underlying this translation is that of 
Vol. I. of the " Taschenausgabe." One or two 
obscure passages I hope my conjectures may have 
elucidated. The dates following the titles indicate 
the year when these essays were written. 

In no other work have I felt so deeply the great 
need of the science of Signifies with its ultimate 
international standardisation of terms, as attempted 
by Eisler and Baldwin. I hope, however, I have 
succeeded in conveying accurately the meaning 
of the author in spite of a certain looseness in his 
philosophical terminology. 

xii translator's preface 

The English language is somewhat at a dis- 
advantage through its lack of a Noun-Infinitive. 
I can best illustrate this by a passage from Par- 

menides : 

Xprj TO Xeyeiv re vodv t ihv ^ixfievai- ecrri yap eivai, 
jXTjStv S' oi5k eiTTLV TO. <T €yu) cjipd^eiT^aL avmya. 

In his usual masterly manner Diels translates 
these lines with : " Das Sagen und Denken musz 
ein Seiendes sein. Denn das Sein existiert, das 
Nichts existiert nicht ; das heisz ich dich wohl zu 
beherzigen." On the other hand in Fairbanks' 
" version " we read : " It is necessary both to say 
and to think that being is ; for it is possible that 
being is, and it is impossible that not being is ; 
this is what I bid thee ponder." In order to 
avoid a similar obscurity, throughout the paper on 
"Early Greek Philosophy" I have rendered 
" das Seiende '' (to ihv) with " Existent ", " das 
Nicht-Seiende '' with " Non-Existent " ; '' das Sein " 
(aVai) with " Being " and '' das Nicht-Sein " with 
" Not-Being." 

I am directly or indirectly indebted for many 
suggestions to several friends of mine, especially to 
two of my colleagues, J. Charlton Hipkins, M.A., 
and R. Miller, B.A., for their patient revision of 
the whole of the proofs. 

M. A. MiJGGE. 

London,' 1911. 

The Greek State 

Preface to an Unwritten Book (1871) 

We moderns have an advantage over the Greeks 
in two ideas, which are given as it were as a com- 
pensation to a world behaving thoroughly slavishly 
and yet at the same time anxiously eschewing the 
word " slave " : we talk of the " dignity of man " and 
of the " dignity of labour." Everybody worries in 
orHer miserably to perpetuate a miserable exist- 
ence ; this awful need compels him to consuming 
labour ; man (or, more exactly, the human intellect) 
seduced by the " Will " now occasionally marvels at 
labour as something dignified. However in order 
that labour might have a claim on titles of honour, 
it would be necessary above all, that Existence itself, 
to which labour after all is only a painful means, 
should have more dignity and value than it appears 
to have had, up to the present, to serious philo- 
sophies and religions. What else may we find in the 
labour-need of all the millions but the impulse to 
exist at any price, the same all-powerful impulse 
by which stunted plants stretch their roots through 
earthless rocks ! 

Out of this awful struggle for existence only 
individuals can emerge, and they are at once 
occupied with the noble phantoms of artistic culture, 
lest they should arrive at practical pessimism, which 
Nature abhors as her exact opposite. In the modern 
world, which, compared with the Greek, usually pro- 


duces only abnormalities and centaurs, in which 
the individual, like that fabulous creature in the 
beginning of the Horatian Art of Poetry, is jumbled 
together out of pieces, here in the modern world in 
one and the same man the greed of the struggle 
for existence and the need for art show themselves 
at the same time : out of this unnatural amalgama- 
tion has originated the dilemma, to excuse and to 
consecrate that first greed before this need for art. 
Therefore' we believe in the " Dignity of man " and 
the " Dignity of labour." 

The Greeks did not require such conceptual 
hallucinations, for among them the idea that labour 
is a disgrace is expressed with startling frankness ; 
and another piece of wisdom, more hidden and less 
articulate, but everywhere alive, added that the 
human thing also was an ignominious and piteous 
nothing and the " dream of a shadow." Labour is 
a disgrace, because existence has no value in itself ; 
but even though this very existence in the alluring 
embellishment of artistic illusions shines forth and 
really seems to have a value in itself, then that pro- 
position is still valid that labour is a disgrace — a 
disgrace indeed by the fact that it is impossible for 
man, fighting for the continuance of bare exist- 
ence, to become an artist. In modern times it is 
not the art-needing man but the slave who deter- 
mines the general conceptions, the slave who 
according to his nature must give deceptive names 
to all conditions in order to be able to live. Such 
phantoms as the dignity of man, the dignity of 
labour, are the needy products of slavedom hiding 
itself from itself Woful time, in which the slave 


requires such conceptions, in which he is incited to 
think about and beyond himself! Cursed seducers, 
who have destroyed the slave's state of innocence 
by the fruit of the tree of knowledge ! Now the 
slave must vainly scrape through from one day to 
another with transparent lies recognisable to every 
one of deeper insight, such as the alleged " equal 
rights of all " or the so-called " fundamental rights 
of man," of man as such, or the " dignity of labour." 
Indeed he is not to understand at what stage and 
at what height dignity can first be mentioned — • 
namely, at the point, where' the individual goes 
wholly beyond himself and no longer has to work 
and to produce in order to preserve his individual 

And even on this height of " labour " the Greek 
at times is overcome by a feeling, that looks like 
shame. In one place Plutarch with earlier Greek 
instinct says that no nobly born youth on beholding 
the Zeus in Pisa would have the desire to become 
himself a Phidias, or on seeing the Hera in Argos, 
to become himself a Polyklet ; and just as little would 
he wish to be Anacreon, Philetas or Archilochus, 
however much he might revel in their poetry. To 
the Greek the work of the artist. falls just as much 
under the undignified conception of labour as any 
ignoble craft. But if the compelling force of the 
artistic impulse operates in him, then he must pro- 
duce and submit himself to that need of labour. 
And as a father admires the beauty and the gift of 
his child but thinks of the act of procreation with 
shamefaced dislike, so it was with the Greek. The 
joyful astonishment at the beautiful has not blinded 


him as to its origin which appeared to him, hke all 
" Becoming " in nature, to be a powerful necessity, 
a forcing of itself into existence. That feeling by 
which the process of procreation is considered as 
something shamefacedly to be hidden, although by 
it man serves a higher purpose than his individual 
preservation, the same feeling veiled also the origin 
of the great works of art, in spite of the fact that 
through them a higher form of existence is inaugu- 
rated, just as through that other act comes a new 
generation. The feeling of shame seems therefore 
to occur where man is merely a tool of manifesta- 
tions of will infinitely greater than he is permitted 
to consider himself in the isolated shape of the 

Now we have the general idea to which are to be 
subordinated the feelings which the Greek had with 
regard to labour and slavery. Both were considered 
by them as a necessary disgrace, of which one feels 
ashamed, as a disgrace and as a necessity at the same 
time. In this feeling of shame is hidden the uncon- 
scious discernment that the real aim needs those 
conditional factors, but that in that need lies the 
fearful and beast-of-prey-like quality of the Sphinx 
Nature, who in the glorification of the artistically 
free culture-life so beautifully stretches forth her 
virgin-body. Culture, which is chiefly a real need 
for art, rests upon a terrible basis : the latter how- 
ever makes itself known in the twilight sensation of 
shame. In order that there may be a broad, deep, 
and fruitful soil for the development of art, the enor- 
mous majority must, in the service of a minority, 
be slavishly subjected to life's struggle, to a greater 


degree than their own wants necessitate. At their 
cost, through the surplus of their lajaour, thg^t 
privileged class is to be relieved from the .struggle 
for existence, in order to create and to satisfy a 
new world of want. 

Accordingly we must accept this cruel sounding 
truth, that slavery is of the essence of Culture ; a truth 
of course, which leaves no doubt as to the absolute 
value of Existence. This truth is the vulture, that 
gnaws at the liver of the Promethean promoter of 
Culture. The misery of toiling men must still in- 
crease in order to make the production of the world 
of art possible to a small number of Olympian men. 
Here is to be found the source of that secret wrath 
nourished by Communists and Socialists of all times, 
and also by their feebler descendants, the white race 
of the " Liberals," not only against the arts, but also 
against classical antiquity. If Culture really rested 
iTpon the will of a people, if here inexorable powers 
did not rule, powers which are law and barrier to the 
individual, then the contempt for Culture, the glori- 
fication of a " poorness in spirit," the iconoclastic 
annihilation of artistic claims would be jnore tha.n an 
insurrection of the suppressed masses against drone- 
like individuals ; it would be the cry of compassion 
tearing down the walls of Culture ; the desire for 
justice, for the equalization of suffering, would 
swamp all other ideas. In fact here and there some- 
times an exuberant degree of compassion has for a 
short time opened all theflood gates of Culture-life ; a 
rainbow of compassionate love and of peaceappeared 
with the first radiant rise of Christianity and under 
it was born Christianity's most beautiful fruit, the 


gospel according to St John. But there are also 
instances to show that powerful religions for long 
periods petrify a given degree of Culture, and cut 
off with inexorable sickle everything that still grows 
on strongly and luxuriantly. For it is not to be for- 
gotten that the same cruelty, which we found in the 
essence of every Culture, lies also in the essence 
of every powerful religion and in general in the 
essence oi power, which is always evil ; so that we 
shall understand it just as well, when a Culture is 
shattering, with a cry for liberty or at least justice, 
a too highly piled bulwark of religious claims. That 
which in this " sorry scheme " of things will live 
{i.e., must live), is at the bottom of its nature a reflex 
of the primal-pain and primal-contradiction, and 
must therefore strike our eyes — " an organ fashioned 
for this world and earth" — as an insatiable greed 
for existence and an eternal self-contradiction, within 
the form of time, therefore as Becoming. Every 
moment devours the preceding one, every birth is 
the death of innumerable beings ; begetting, living, 
murdering, all is one. Therefore we may compare 
this grand Culture with a blood-stained victor, who 
in his triumphal procession carries the defeated along 
as slaves chained to his chariot, slaves whom a bene- 
ficent power has so blinded that, almost crushed 
by the wheels of the chariot, they nevertheless still 
exclaim : " Dignity of labour ! " " Dignity of Man ! " 
The voluptuous Cleopatra-Culture throws ever again 
the most priceless pearls, the tears of compassion for 
the misery of slaves, into her golden goblet. Out of 
the emasculation of modern man has been born the 
enormous social distress of the present time, not out 


of the true and deep commiseration for that misery ; 
and if it should be true that the Greeks perished 
through their slavedom then another fact is much 
more certain, that we shall perish through the lack 
of slavery. Slavedom did not appear in any way 
objectionable, much less abominable, either to early 
Christianity or to the Germanic race. What an 
uplifting effect on us has the contemplation of the 
mediaeval bondman, with his legal and moral rela- 
tions, — relations that were inwardly strong and 
tender, — towards the man of higher rank, with the 
profound fencing-in of his narrow existence — how 
uplifting ! — and how reproachful 1 

He who cannot reflect upon the position of affairs 
in Society without melancholy, who has learnt to 
conceive of it as the continual painful birth of those 
privileged Culture-men, in whose service everything 
else must be devoured — he will no longer be de- 
ceived by that false glamour, which the moderns 
have spread over the origin and meaning of the 
State. For what can the State mean to us, if not 
the means by which that social-process described 
just now is to be fused and to be guaranteed in its 
unimpeded continuance ? Be the sociable instinct 
in individual man as strong as it may, it is only the 
iron clamp of the State that constrains the large 
masses upon one another in such a fashion that a 
chemical decomposition of Society, with its pyra- 
mid-like superstructure, is bound to take place. 
Whence however originates this sudden power of 
the State, whose aim lies much beyond the insight 
and beyond the egoism of the individual ? How 
did the slave, the blind mole of Culture, originate ? 


The Greeks in their instinct relating to the law of 
nations have betrayed it to us, in an instinct, which 
even in the ripest fulness of their civilisation and 
humanity never ceased to utter as out of a brazen 
mouth such words as : " to the victor belongs the 
vanquished, with wife and child, life and property. 
Power gives thefirst rigkt,s.nd there is no right, which 
at bottom is not presumption, usurpation, violence." 

Here again we see with what pitiless inflexibility 
Nature, in order to arrive at Society, forges for her- 
self the cruel tool of the State — -namely, that con- 
queror with the iron hand, who is nothing else than 
the objectivation of the instinct indicated. By the 
indefinable greatness and power of such conquerors 
the spectator feels, that they are only the means of 
an intention manifesting itself through them and 
yet hiding itself from them. The weaker forces 
attach themselves to them with such mysterious 
speed, and transform themselves so wonderfully, in 
the sudden swelling of that violent avalanche, under 
the charm of that creative kernel, into an affinity 
hitherto not existing, that it seems as if a magic 
will were emanating from them. 

Now when we see how little the vanquished 
trouble themselves after a short time about the 
horrible origin of the State, so that history informs 
us of no class of events worse than the origins of 
those sudden, violent, bloody and, at least in one 
point, inexplicable usurpations : when hearts invol- 
untarily go out towards the magic of the growing 
State with the presentiment of an invisible deep 
purpose, where the calculating intellect is enabled to 
see an addition of forces only ; when now the State 


is even contemplated with fervour as the goal and 
ultimate aim of the sacrifices and duties of the indi- 
vidual : then out of all that speaks the enormous 
necessity of the State, without which Nature might 
not succeed in coming, through Society, to her de- 
liverance in semblance, in the mirror of the; geniug. 
What discernments does the instinctive pleasure in 
the State not overcome ! One would indeed feel 
inclined to think that a man who looks into the 
origin of the State will henceforth seek his salva- 
tion at an awful distance from it ; and where can 
one not see the monuments of its origin — devastated 
lands, destroyed cities, brutalised men, devouring 
hatred of nations ! The State, of ignominiously low 
birth, for the majority of men a continually flowing 
source of hardship, at frequently recurring periods 
the consuming torch of mankind — and yet a word, 
at which we forget ourselves, a battle cry, which has 
filled men with enthusiasm for innumerable really 
heroic "deeds, perhaps the highest and most venerable 
object for the blind and egoistic multitude which 
only in the tremendous moments of State-life has 
the strange expression of greatness on its face ! 

We have, however, to consider the Greeks, with 
regard to the unique sun-height of their art, as the 
" political men in themselves," and certainly history 
knows of no second instance of such an awful un- 
chaining of the political passion, such an uncondi- 
tional immolation of all other interests in the service 
of this State-instinct ; at the best one might dis- 
tinguish the men of the Renascence in Italy with a 
similar title for like reasons and by way of com- 
parison. So overloaded is that passion among the 


Greeks that it begins ever anew to rage against itself 
and to strike its teeth into its own flesh. This 
bloody jealousy of city against city, of party against 
party, this murderous greed of those little wars, 
the tiger-like triumph over the corpse of the slain 
enemy, in short, the incessant renewal of those 
Trojan scenes of struggle and horror, in the spec- 
tacle of which, as a genuine Hellene, Homer stands 
before us absorbed with delight — whither does this 
naive barbarism of the Greek State point ? What 
is its excuse before the tribunal of eternal justice ? 
Proud and calm, the State steps before this tribunal 
and by the hand it leads the flower of blossoming 
womanhood : Greek society. For this Helena the 
State waged those wars — and what grey-bearded 
judge could here condemn ? — 

Under this mysterious connection, which we here 
divine between State and art, political greed and 
artistic creation, battlefield and work of art, we 
understand by the State, as already remarked, only 
the cramp-iron, which compels the Social process ; 
whereas without the State, in the natural bellum om- 
nium contra omnes Society cannot strike root at all 
on a larger scale and beyond the reach of the family. 
Now, after States have been established almost 
everywhere, that bent of the bellum omnium contra 
omnes concentrates itself from time to time into a 
terrible gathering of war-clouds and discharges itself 
as it were in rare but so much the more violent 
shocks and lightning flashes. But in consequence 
of the effect of that bellum, — an effect which is turned 
inwards and compressed, — Society is given time 
during the intervals to germinate and burst into leaf, 


in order, as soon as warmer days come, to let the 
shining blossoms of genius sprout forth. 

In face of the political world of the Hellenes, I 
will not hide those phenomena of the present in 
which I believe I discern dangerous atrophies of the 
political sphere equally critical for art and society. 
If thereshould exist men, who as itwere through birth 
are placed outside the national- and State-instincts, 
who consequently have to esteem the State only in so 
far as they conceive that it coincides with their own 
interest, then such men will necessarily imagine as 
the ultimate political aim the most undisturbed col- 
lateral existence of great political communities pos- 
sible,in which ^^^might be permitted to pursue their 
own purposes without restriction. With this idea in 
their heads they will promote that policy which will 
offer the greatest security to these purposes ; whereas 
it is unthinkable, that they, against their intentions, 
guided perhaps by an unconscious instinct, should 
sacrifice themselves for the State-tendency, unthink- 
able because they lack that very instinct. All other 
citizens of the State are in the dark about what 
Nature intends with her State-instinct within them, 
and they follow blindly ; only those who stand 
outside this instinct know what they want from the 
State and what the State is to grant them. There- 
fore it is almost unavoidable that such men 
should gain great influence in the State because 
they are allowed to consider it as a means, whereas 
all the others under the sway of those unconscious 
purposes of the State are themselves only means 
for the fulfilment of the State-purpose. In order 
now to attain, through the medium of the State, 


the highest furtherance of their selfish aims, it is 
above all necessary, that the State be wholly freed 
from those awfully incalculable war-convulsions so 
that it may be used rationally ; and thereby they 
strive with all their might for a condition of things 
in which war is an impossibility. For that purpose 
the thing to do is first to curtail and to enfeeble the 
political separatisms and factions and through the 
establishment of large equipoised State-bodies and 
the mutual safeguarding of them to make the suc- 
cessful result of an aggressive war and consequently 
war itself the greatest improbability; as on the other 
hand they will endeavour to wrest the question of 
war and peace from the decision of individual lords, 
in order to be able rather to appeal to the egoism 
of the masses or their representatives ; for which 
purpose they again need slowly to dissolve the 
monarchic instincts of the nations. This purpose 
they attain best through the most general promul- 
gation of the liberal optimistic view of the world, 
which has its roots in the doctrines of French 
Rationalism and the French Revolution, i.e., in a 
wholly un-Germanic, genuinely neo-Latin shallow 
and unmetaphysical philosophy. I cannot help 
seeing in the prevailing international movements 
of the present day, and the simultaneous promulga- 
tion of universal suffrage, the effects of the fear 
of war above everything else, yea I behold behrhd 
these movements, those truly international home- 
less money-hermits, as the really alarmed, who, 
with their natural lack of the State-instinct, have 
learnt to abuse politics as a means of the Exchange, 
and State and Society as an apparatus for their own 


enrichment. Against the deviation of the State- 
tendency into a money-tendency, to be feared from 
this side, the onl^ remedy is wa£ and once again 
war, in the emotions of which this at least becomes 
obvious, that the State is not founded upon the fear 
of the war-demon, as a protective institution for 
egoistic individuals, but in love to fatherland and 
prince, it produces an ethical impulse, indicative of 
a much higher destiny. If I therefore designate as 
a dangerous and characteristic sign of the present 
political situation the application of revolutionary 
thought in the service of a selfish State-less 
money-aristocracy, if at the same time I conceive 
of the enormous dissemination of liberal optimism 
as the result of modern financial affairs fallen 
into strange hands, and if I imagine all evils 
or"soicial conditions together with the necessary 
decay of the arts to have either germinated from 
that root or grown together with it, one will have 
to pardon my occasionally chanting a Paean on war. 
Horribly clangs its silvery bow ; and although it 
comes along like the night, war is nevertheless 
Apollo, the true divinity for consecrating and puri- 
fying the State. First of all, however, as is said in 
the beginning of the " Iliad," he lets fly his arrow 
on the mules and dogs. Then he strikes the men 
themselves, and everywhere pyres break into flames. 
Be it then pronounced that war is just as much a 
necessity for the State as the slave is for society, 
and who can avoid this verdict if he honestly asks 
himself about the causes of the never- equalled Greek 
art-perfection ? 

He who contemplates war and its uniformed pos- 


sibility, the soldier's profession, with respect to the 
hitherto described nature of the State, must arrive 
at the conviction, that through war and in the pro- 
fession of arms is placed before our eyes an image, 
or even perhaps the prototype of the State. Here we 
see as the most general effect of the war-tendency an 
immediate decomposition and division of the chaotic 
mass into military castes, out of which rises, pyramid- 
shaped, on an exceedingly broad base of slaves the 
edifice of the " martial society." The unconscious 
purpose of the whole movement constrains every in- 
dividual under its yoke, and produces also in hetero- 
geneous natures as it were a chemical transformation 
of their qualities until they are brought into affinity 
with that purpose. In the highest castes one per- 
ceives already a little more of what in this internal 
process is involved at the bottom, namely the crea- 
tion of the military genius — with whom we have 
become acquainted as the original founder of states. 
In the case of many States, as, for example, in th"e- 
Lycurgian constitution of Sparta, one can distinctly 
perceive the impress of that fundamental idea of the 
State, that of the creation of the military genius. IF 
we now imagine the military primal State in its 
greatest activity, at its proper " labour," and if we 
fix our glance upon the whole technique of war, 
we cannot avoid correcting our notions picked up 
from everywhere, as to the " dignity of man " and 
the " dignity of labour " by the question, whether 
the idea of dignity is applicable also to that labour, 
which has as its purpose the destruction of the_ 
" dignified " man, as well as to the man who is 
entrusted with that " dignified labour," or whether 


in this warlike task of the State those mutually 
contradictory ideas do not neutralise one another. I 
should like to think the warlike man to be a means 
of the military genius and his labour again only 
a tool in the hands of that same genius ; and not 
to him, as absolute man and non-genius, but to him 
as a means of the genius — whose pleasure also can 
be to choose his tool's destruction as a mere pawn 
sacrificed on the strategist's chessboard — is due a 
degree of dignity, of that dignity namely, to have 
been deemed worthy of being a means of the genius. 
But what is shown here in a single instance is valid 
in the most general sense ; every human being, with 
his total activity, only has dignity in so far as he is 
a tool of the genius, consciously or unconsciously ; 
from this we may immediately deduce the ethical 
conclusion, that "man in himself," the absolute man 
possesses neither dignity, nor rights, nor duties; 
only as a wholly determined being serving uncon- 
scious purposes can man excuse his existence. 

Plato's perfect State is according to these con- 
siderations certainly something still greater than 
even the warm-blooded among his admirers believe, 
not to mention the smiling mien of superiority with 
which our "historically" educated refuse such a 
fruit of antiquity. The proper aim of the State, 
the Olympian existence and ever-renewed procrea- 
tion and preparation of the genius, — compared with 
which all other things are only tools, expedients 
and factors towards realisation — is here discovered 
with a poetic intuition and painted with firmness. 
Plato saw through the awfully devastated Herma 
of the then-existing State-life and perceived even 


then something divine in its interior. He believed 
that one might be able to take out this divine image 
and that the grim and barbarically distorted out- 
side and shell did not belong to the essence of the 
State : the whole fervour and sublimity of his politi- 
cal passion threw itself upon this belief, upon that 
desire — and in the flames of this fire he perished. 
That in his perfect State he did not place at the 
head the genius in its general meaning, but only 
the genius of wisdom and of knowledge, that he 
altogether excluded the inspired artist from his 
State, that was a rigid consequence of the Socratian 
judgment on art, which Plato, struggling against 
himself, had made his own. This more external, 
almost incidental gap must not prevent our recog- 
nising in the total conception of the Platonic State 
the wonderfully great hieroglyph of a profound and 
eternally to be interpreted esoteric doctrine of the 
connection between State and Genius. What we be- 
lieved we could divine of this cryptograph we have 
said in this preface. 

The Greek Woman 

(Fragment, 1871) 

Just as Plato from disguises and obscurities brought 
to light the innermost purpose of the State, so also 
he conceived the chief cause of the position of the 
Hellenic Woman with regard to the State ; in both 
cases he saw in what existed around him the image 
of the ideas manifested to him, and of these ideas 
of course the actual was only a hazy picture and 
phantasmagoria. He who according to the usual 
custom considers the position of the Hellenic Woman 
to be altogether unworthy and repugnant to human- 
ity, must also turn with this reproach against the 
Platonic conception of this position ; for, as it were, 
the existing forms were only precisely set forth in 
this latter conception. Here therefore our question 
repeats itself: should not the nature and the position"' 
of the Hellenic Woman have a necessary relation to 
the goals of the Hellenic Will ? _j 

Of course there is one side of the Platonic con- 
ception of woman, which stands in abrupt contrast 
with Hellenic custom : Plato gives to woman a full 
share in the rights, knowledge and duties of man, 
and considers woman only as the weaker sex, in 
that she will not achieve remarkable success in all 
things, without however disputing this sex's title to 
all those things. We must not attach more value toj 
this strange notion than to the expulsion of the artist 
out of the ideal State ; these are side-lines daringly 


mis-drawn, aberrations as it were of the hand other- 
wise so sure and of the so calmly contemplating 
eye which at times under the influence of the de- 
ceased master becomes dim and dejected ; in this 
mood he exaggerates the master's paradoxes and 
in the abundance of his love gives himself satisfac- 
tion by very eccentrically intensifying the latter's 
doctrines even to foolhardiness. 

The most significant word however that Plato as 
a Greek could say on the relation of woman to the 
State, was that so objectionable demand, that in the 
perfect State, the Family was to cease. At present let 
us take no account of his abolishing even marriage, 
in order to carry out this demand fully, and of his 
substituting solemn nuptials arranged by order of 
the State, between the bravest men and the noblest 
women, for the attainment of beautiful offspring. 
In that principal proposition however he has in- 
dicated most distinctly — indeed too distinctly, offen- 
sively distinctly — an important preparatory step of 
the Hellenic Will towards the procreation of the 
genius. But in the customs of the Hellenic people 
the claim of the family on man and child was 
extremely limited : the man lived in the State, the 
child grew up for the State and was guided by the 
hand of the State. The Greek Will took care that 
the need of culture could not be satisfied in the 
seclusion of a small circle. From the State the 
individual has to receive everything in order to 
return everything to the State. Woman accords 
ingly means to the State, what sleep does tomaii^ 
In her nature lies the healing power, which replaces 
that which has been used up, the beneficial rest in 


which everything immoderate confines itself, the 
eternal Same, by which the excessive and the surplus 
regulate themselves. In her the future generation 
dreams. Woman is more closely related to Nature 
than man and in all her essentials she remains ever 
herself. Culture is with her always something ex- 
ternal, a something which does not touch the kernel 
that is eternally faithful to Nature, therefore the 
culture of woman might well appear to the Athenian 
as something indifferent, yea — if one only wanted to 
conjure it up in one's mind, as something ridiculous. 
He who at once feels himself compelled from that 
to infer the position of women among the Greeks as 
unworthy and all too cruel, should not indeed take 
as his criterion the " culture " of modern woman and 
her claims, against which it is sufficient just to point 
out the Olympian women together with Penelope, 
Antigone, Elektra. Of course it is true that these 
are ideal figures, but who would be able to create 
such ideals out of the present world ? — Further in- 
deed is to be considered what sons these women 
have borne, and what women they must have been 
to have given birth to such sons ! The Hellenic 
woman as mother had to live in obscurity, because 
the political instinct together with its highest aim 
demanded it. She had to vegetate like a plant, in 
the narrow circle, as a symbol of the Epicurean 
wisdom \a.Q(. /3t(ocras. Again, in more recent times, 
with the complete disintegration of the principle of 
the State, she had to step in as helper ; the family 
as a makeshift for the State is her work ; and in this 
sense the artistic aim of the State had to abase 
itself to the level of a domestic art. Thereby it has 


been brought about, that the passion of love, as the 

one realm wholly accessible to women, regulates our 

art to the very core. Similarly, home-education 

considers itself so to speak as the only natural one 

and suffers State-education only as a questionable 

infringement upon the right of home-education : all 

this is right as far as the modern State only is 

concerned. — With that the nature of woman withal 

remains unaltered, but her power is, according to 

the position which the State takes up with regard 

to women, a different one. Women have indeed 

really the power to make good to a certain extent 

the deficiencies of the State — ever faithful to their 

nature, which I have compared to sleep. In Greek 

antiquity they held that position, which the most 

supreme will of the State assigned to them : for 

that reason they have been glorified as never since. 

The goddesses of Greek mythology are their images : 

the Pythia and the Sibyl, as well as the Socratic 

Diotima are the priestesses out of whom divine 

wisdom speaks. Now one understands why the 

proud resignation of the Spartan woman at the 

news of her son's death in battle can be no fable. 

Woman in relation to the State felt herself in her 

proper position, therefore she had more dignity than 

woman has ever had since. Plato who through 

abolishing family and marriage still intensifies the 

position of woman, feels now so much reverence 

towards them, that oddly enough he is misled by a 

subsequent statement of their equality with man, to 

abolish again the order of rank which is their due : 

the highest triumph of the woman of antiquity, to 

have seduced even the wisest ! 


As long as the State is still in an embryonic con- 
dition woman as mother preponderates and deter- 
mines the grade and the manifestations of Culture : 
in the same way as woman is destined to comple- 
ment the disorganised State. What Tacitus says of 
German women : inesse quin etiam sanctum aliquid 
etprovidum putant,nec aut consilia earum aspernantur 
aut responsa neglegunt, applies on the whole to all 
nations not yet arrived at the real State. In such 
stages one feels only the more strongly that which 
at all times becomes again manifest, that the instincts 
of woman as the bulwark of the future generation 
are invincible and that in her care for the preser- 
vation of the species Nature speaks out of these 
instincts very distinctly. How far this divining 
power reaches is determined, it seems, by the greater 
or lesser consolidation of the State : in disorderly 
and more arbitrary conditions, where the whim or 
the passion of the individual man carries along with 
itself whole tribes, then woman suddenly comes for- 
ward as the warning prophetess. But in Greece too 
there was a never slumbering care that the terribly 
overcharged political instinct might splinter into 
dust and atoms the little political organisms before 
they attained their goals in any way. Here the 
• Hellenic Will created for itself ever new imple- 
ments by means of which it spoke, adjusting, moder- 
ating, warning : above all it is in the Pythia, that 
the power of woman to compensate the State mani- 
fested itself so clearly, as it has never done since. 
That a people split up thus into small tribes and 
municipalities, was yet at bottom whole and was 
performing the task of its nature within its faction. 


was assured by that wonderful phenomenon the 
Pythia and the Delphian oracle : for always, as long 
as Hellenism created its great works of art, it spoke 
out of one mouth and as one Pythia. We cannot 
hold back the portentous discernment that to the 
Will individuation means much suffering, and that in 
order to reach those individuals It needs an enor- 
mous step-ladder of individuals. It is true our brains 
reel with the consideration whether the Will in order 
to arrive at Art, has perhaps effused Itself out into 
these worlds, stars, bodies, and atoms : at least it 
ought to become clear to us then, that Art is not 
necessary for the individuals, but for the Will itself: 
a sublime outlook at which we shall be permitted to 
glance once more from another position. 

On Music and Words 

(Fragment, 1871) 

What we here have asserted of the relationship 
between language and music must be valid too, for 
equal reasons concerning the relationship of Mime 
to Music. The Mime too, as the intensified sym- 
bolism of man's gestures, is, measured by the eternal 
significance of music, only a simile, which brings 
into expression the innermost secret of music but 
very superficially, namely on the substratum of the 
passionately moved human body. But if we include 
language also in the category of bodily symbolism, 
and compare the drama, according to the canon 
advanced, with music, then I venture to think, a 
proposition of Schopenhauer will come into the 
clearest light, to which reference must be made again 
later on. " It might be admissible, although a 
purely musical mind does not demand it, to join 
and adapt words or even a clearly represented 
action to the pure language of tones, although the 
latter, being self-sufficient, needs no help ; so that 
our perceiving and reflecting intellect, which does 
not like to be quite idle, may meanwhile have light 
and analogous occupation also. By this concession 
to the intellect man's attention adheres even more 
closely to music, by this at the same time, too, is 
placed underneath that which the tones indicate in 
their general metaphorless language of the heart, a 
visible picture, as it were a schema, as an example 
illustrating a general idea . . . indeed such things will 



even heighten the effect of music." (Schopenhauer, 
Parerga, II., "On the Metaphysics of the Beauti- 
ful and ^Esthetics," § 224.) If we disregard the 
naturalistic external motivation according to which 
our perceiving and reflecting intellect does not like 
to be quite idle when listening to music, and atten- 
tion led by the hand of an obvious action follows 
better — then the drama in relation to music has been 
characterised by Schopenhauer for the best reasons 
as a schema, as an example illustrating a general 
idea : and when he adds " indeed such things will 
even heighten the effect of music " then the enor- 
mous universality and originality of vocal music, of 
the connection of tone with metaphor and idea 
guarantee the correctness of this utterance. The 
music of every people begins in closest connection 
with lyricism and long before absolute music can be 
thought of, the music of a people in that connection 
passes through the most important stages of develop- 
ment. If we understand this primal lyricism of a 
people, as indeed we must, to be an imitation of 
the artistic typifying Nature, then as the original 
prototype of that union of music and lyricism must 
be regarded : the duality in the essence of language, 
already typified by Nature. Now, after discussing 
the relation of music to metaphor we will fathom 
deeper this essence of language. 

In the multiplicity of languages the fact at once 
manifests itself, that word and thing do not neces- 
sarily coincide with one another completely, but that 
the word is a symbol. But what does the word sym- 
bolise ? Most certainly only conceptions, be these 
now conscious ones or as in the greater number of 


cases, unconscious ; for how should a word-symbol 
correspond to that innermost nature of which we 
and the world are images? Only as conceptions 
we know that kernel, only in its metaphorical ex- 
pressions are we familiar with it ; beyond that point 
there is nowhere a direct bridge which could lead 
us to it. The whole life of impulses, too, the play 
of feelings, sensations, emotions, volitions, is known 
to us — as I am forced to insert here in opposition to 
Schopenhauer — after a most rigid self-examination, 
not according to its essence but merely as concep- 
tion ; and we may well be permitted to say, that 
even Schopenhauer's " Will " is nothing else but the 
most general phenomenal form of a Something 
otherwise absolutely indecipherable. If therefore 
we must acquiesce in the rigid necessity of getting 
nowhere beyond the conceptions we can neverthe- 
less again distinguish two main species within their 
realm. The one species manifest themselves to us 
as pleasure-and-displeasure-sensations and accom- 
pany all other conceptions as a never-lacking funda- 
mental basis. This most general manifestation, out 
of which and by which alone we understand all 
Becoming and all Willing and for which we will 
retain the name " Will " has now too in language its 
own symbolic sphere : and in truth this sphere is 
equally fundamental to the language, as that mani- 
festation is fundamental to all other conceptions. All 
degrees of pleasure and displeasure— expressions of 
one primal cause unfathomable to us — symbolise 
themselves in the tone of the speaker: whereas all 
the other conceptions are indicated by the gesture- 
symbolism of the speaker. In so far as that primal 


cause is the same in all men, the tonal subsoil is also 
the common one, comprehensible beyond the differ- 
ence of language. Out of it now develops the more 
arbitrary gesture-symbolism which is not wholly 
adequate for its basis : and with which begins the 
diversity of languages, whose multiplicity we are 
permitted to consider — to use a simile — as a strophic 
text to that primal melody of the pleasure-and- 
displeasure-language. The whole realm of the con- 
sonantal and vocal we believe we may reckon only 
under gesture-symbolism : consonants and vowels 
without that fundamental tone which is necessary 
above all else, are nothing but positions of the 
organs of speech, in short, gestures — ; as soon as we 
imagine the word proceeding out of the mouth of 
man, then first of all the root of the word, and the 
basis of that gesture-symbolism, the tonal subsoil, 
the echo of the pleasure-and-displeasure-sensations 
originate. As our whole corporeality stands in 
relation to that original phenomenon, the "Will," 
so the word built out of its consonants and vowels 
stands in relation to its tonal basis. 

This original phenomenon, the "Will," with its 
scale of pleasure-and-displeasure-sensations attains 
in the development of music an ever more adequate 
symbolic expression : and to this historical process 
the continuous effort of lyric poetry runs parallel, the 
effort to transcribe music into metaphors : exactly 
as this double-phenomenon, according to the just 
completed disquisition, lies typified in language. 

He who has followed us into these difficult con- 
templations readily, attentively, and with some 
imagination — and with kind indulgence where the 


expression has been too scanty or too unconditional 
— will now have the advantage with us, of laying 
before himself more seriously and answering more 
deeply than is usually the case some stirring points 
of controversy of present-day aesthetics and still 
more of contemporary artists. Let us think now, 
after all our assumptions, what an undertaking it 
must be, to set music to a poem ; i.e., to illustrate 
a poem by music, in order to help music thereby 
to obtain a language of ideas. What a perverted 
world ! A task that appears to my mind like that 
of a son wanting to create his father ! Music can 
create metaphors out of itself, which will always 
however be but schemata, instances as it were of 
her intrinsic general contents. But how should the 
metaphor, the conception, create music out of itself ! 
Much less could the idea, or, as one has said, the 
" poetical idea " do this. As certainly as a bridge 
leads out of the mysterious castle of the musician 
into the free land of the metaphors — and the lyric 
poet steps across it — as certainly is it impossible to 
go the contrary way, although some are said to exist 
who fancy they have done so. One might people 
the air with the phantasy of a Raphael, one might 
see St. Cecilia, as he does, listening enraptured to the 
harmonies of the choirs of angels — no tone issues 
from this world apparently lost in music : even if 
we imagined that that harmony in reality, as by 
a miracle, began to sound for us, whither would 
Cecilia, Paul and Magdalena disappear from us, 
whither even the singing choir of angels ! We should 
at once cease to be Raphael : and as in that picture 
the earthly instruments lie shattered on the ground, 



SO our painter's vision, defeated by the higher, would 
fade and die away. — How nevertheless could the 
miracle happen ? How should the Apollonian world 
of the eye quite engrossed in contemplation be able 
to create out of itself the tone, which on the contrary 
symbolises a sphere which is excluded and con- 
quered just by that very Apollonian absorption in 
Appearance? The delight at Appearance cannot 
raiseout of itself the pleasure at Non-appearance; the 
delight of perceiving is delight only by the fact that 
nothing reminds us of a sphere in which individua- 
tion is broken and abolished. If we have character- 
ised at all correctly the Apollonian in opposition to 
the Dionysean, then the thought which attributes 
to the metaphor, the idea, the appearance, in some 
way the power of producing out of itself the tone, 
must appear to us strangely wrong. We will not 
be referred, in order to be refuted, to the musician 
who writes music to existing lyric poems ; for after 
all that has been said we shall be compelled to 
assert that the relationship between the lyric poem 
and its setting must in any case be a different one 
from that between a father and his child. Then 
what exactly ? 

Here now we may be met on the ground of a 
favourite aesthetic notion with the proposition, " It 
is not the poem which gives birth to the setting but 
the sentiment created by the poem." I do not agree 
with that ; the more subtle or powerful stirring-up 
of that pleasure-and-displeasure-subsoil is in the 
realm of productive art the element which is in- 
artistic in itself; indeed only its total exclusion 
makes the complete self-absorption and disinterested 


perception of the artist possible. Here perhaps one 
might retaliate that I myself just now predicated 
about the "Will," that in music "Will" came to an 
ever more adequate symbolic expression. My 
answer, condensed into an aesthetic axiom, is this : 
the Will is the object of music but not the origin of it, 
that is the Will in its very greatest universality, as 
the most original manifestation, under which is to 
be understood all Becoming. That, which we call 
feeling, is with regard to this Will already permeat- 
ed and saturated with conscious and unconscious 
conceptions and is therefore no longer directly the 
object of music ; it is unthinkable then that these 
feelings should be able to create music out of them- 
selves. Take for instance the feelings of love, fear 
and hope : music can no longer do anything with 
them in a direct way, every one of them is already 
so filled with conceptions. On the contrary these 
feelings can serve to symbolise music, as the lyric 
poet does who translates for himself into the simile- 
world of feelings that conceptually and metaphori- 
cally unapproachable realm of the Will, the proper 
content and object of music. The lyric poet re- 
sembles all those hearers of music who are conscious 
of an ejfect of music on their emotions ; the distant 
and removed power of music appeals, with them, 
to an intermediate realm which gives to them as it 
were a foretaste, a symbolic preliminary conception 
of music proper, it appeals to the intermediate 
realm of the emotions. One might be permitted 
to say about them, with respect to the Will, the 
only object of music, that they bear the same rela- 
tion to this Will, as the analogous morning-dream. 


according to Schopenhauer's theory, bears to the 
dream proper. To all those, however, who are un- 
able to get at music except with their emotions, 
is to be said, that they will ever remain in the 
entrance-hall, and will never have access to the 
sanctuary of music : which, as I said, emotion can- 
not show but only symbolise. 

With regard however to the origin of music, I 
have already explained that that can never lie in 
the Will, but must rather rest in the lap of that 
force, which under the form of the " Will " creates 
out of itself a visionary world : the origin of music 
lies beyond all individuation, a proposition, which 
after our discussion on the Dionyseanis self-evident. 
At this point I take the liberty of settmg forth again 
comprehensively side by side those decisive proposi- 
tions which the antithesis of the Dionysean and Apol- 
lonian dealt with has compelled us to enunciate : 

The " Will," as the most original manifestation, 
is the object of music : in this sense music can be 
called imitation of Nature, but of Nature in its 
most general form. — 

The "Will" itself and the feelings — manifesta- 
tions of the Will already permeated with concep- 
tions — are wholly incapable of creating music out 
of themselves, just as on the other hand it is utterly 
denied to music to represent feelings, or to have 
feelings as its object, while Will is its only object. — 

He who carries away feelings as effects of music 
has within them as it were a symbolic intermediate 
realm, which can give him a foretaste of music, but 
excludes him at the same time from her innermost 
sanctuaries. — 


The lyric poet interprets music to himself through 
the symbolic world of emotions, whereas he himself, 
in the calm of the Apollonian contemplation, is 
exempted from those emotions.— 

When, therefore, the musician writes a setting to a 
lyric poem he is moved as musician neither through 
the images nor through the emotional language in 
the text; but a musical inspiration coming from 
quite a different sphere chooses for itself that song- 
text as allegorical expression. There cannot there- 
fore be any question as to a necessary relation be- 
tween poem and music ; for the two worlds brought 
here into connection are too strange to one another 
to enter into more than a superficial alliance ; the 
song-text is just a symbol and stands to music in 
the same relation as the Egyptian hieroglyph of 
bravery did to the brave warrior himself During 
the highest revelations of music we even feel in- 
voluntarily the crudeness of every figurative effort 
and of every emotion dragged in for purposes of 
analogy ; for example, the last quartets of Bee- 
thoven quite put to shame all illustration and the 
entire realm of empiric reality. The .symbol, in face 
of the god really revealing himself, has no longer 
any meaning ; moreover it appears as an offensive 

One must not think any the worse of us for con- 
sidering from this point of view one item so that 
we may speak about it without reserve, namely the 
last movement of Beethoverfs Ninth Symphony, a 
movement which is unprecedented and unanalys- 
able in its charms. To the dithyrambic world- 
redeeming exultation of this music Schiller's poem, 


"To Joy," is wholly incongruous, yea, like cold moon- 
light, pales beside that sea of flame. Who would 
rob me of this sure feeling ? Yea, who would be able 
to dispute that that feeling during the hearing of 
this music does not find expression in a scream only 
because we, wholly impotent through music for 
metaphor and word, already hear nothing at all from. 
Schiller's poem. All that noble sublimity, yea the 
grandeur of Schiller's verses has, beside the truly 
naive-innocent folk -melody of joy, a disturbing, 
troubling, even crude and offensive effect; only the 
ever fuller development of the choir's song and the 
masses of the orchestra preventing us from hearing 
them, keep from us that sensation of incongruity. 
What therefore shall we think of that awful aesthetic 
superstition that Beethoven himself made a solemn 
statement as to his belief in the limits of absolute 
music, in that fourth movement of the Ninth Sym- 
phony, yea that he as it were with it unlocked the 
portals of a new art, within which music had been 
enabled to represent even metaphor and idea and 
whereby music had been opened to the " conscious 
mind." And what does Beethoven himself tell us 
when he has choir-song introduced by a recitative ? 
" Alas friends, let us intonate not these tones but 
more pleasing and joyous ones ! " More pleasing 
and joyous ones ! For that he needed the convinc- 
ing tone of the human voice, for that he needed the 
music of innocence in the folk-song. Not the word, 
but the " more pleasing " sound, not the idea but 
the most heartfelt joyful tone was chosen by the 
sublime master in his longing for the most soul- 
thrilling ensemble of his orchestra. And how could 


one misunderstand him ! Rather may the same be 
said of this movement as Richard Wagner says of 
the great "^issa Solemnis^ which he calls " a pure 
symphonic work of the most genuine Beethoven - 
spirit " (Beethoven, p. 42). " The voices are treated 
here quite in the sense of human instruments, in 
which sense Schopenhauer quite rightly wanted 
these human voices to be considered ; the text 
underlying them is understood by us in these great 
Church compositions, not in its conceptual meaning, 
but it serves in the sense of the musical work of 
art, merely as material for vocal music and does not 
stand to our musically determined sensation in a 
disturbing position simply because it does not in- 
cite in us any rational conceptions but, as its eccle- 
siastical character conditions too, only touches us 
with the impression of well-known symbolic creeds." 
Besides I do not doubt .that Beethoven, had he 
written the Tenth Symphony — of which drafts are 
still extant — would have composed just the Tenth 

Let us now approach, after these preparations, the 
discussion of the opera, so as to be able to proceed 
afterwards from the opera to its counterpart in the 
Greek tragedy. What we had to observe in the last 
movement of the Ninth, i.e., on the highest level 
of modern music-development, viz., that the word- 
content goes down unheard in the general sea of 
sound, is nothing isolated and peculiar, but the gene- 
ral and eternally valid norm in the vocal music of 
all times, the norm which alone is adequate to the 
origin of lyric song. The man in a state of Dionys- 
ean excitement has a listener just as little as the 


orgiastic crowd, a listener to whom he might have 
something to communicate, a listener as the epic nar- 
rator and generally speaking the Apollonian artist, 
to be sure, presupposes. It is rather in the nature of 
the Dionysean art, that it has no consideration for 
the listener : the inspired servant of Dionysos is, as 
I said in a former place, understood only by his com- 
peers. But if we now imagine a listener at those 
endemic outbursts of Dionysean excitement then 
we shall have to prophesy for him a fate similar to 
that which Pentheus the discovered eavesdropper 
suffered, namely, to be torn to pieces by the Maenads. 
The lyric musician sings "as the bird sings,"* alone, 
out of innermost compulsion ; when the listener 
comes to him with a demand he must become dumb. 
Therefore it would be altogether unnatural to ask 
from the lyric musician that one should also under- 
stand the text-words of his song, unnatural because 
here a demand is made by the listener, who has no 
right at all during the lyric outburst to claim any- 
thing. Now with the poetry of the great ancient 
lyric poets in your hand, put the question honestly 
to yourself whether they can have even thought of 
making themselves clear to the mass of the people 
standing around and listening, clear with their world 
of metaphors and thoughts ; answer this serious 
question with a look at Pindar and the .^schylian 
choir songs. These most daring and obscure in- 

* A reference to Goethe's ballad. The Minstrel, st. 5 : 

" I sing as sings the bird, whose note 
The leafy bough is heard on. 
The song that falters from my throat 

For me is ample guerdon." Tr. 


tricacies of thought, this whirl of metaphors, ever 
impetuously reproducing itself, this oracular tone of 
the whole, which we, without the diversion of music 
and orchestration, so often cannot penetrate even 
with the closest attention — was this whole world of 
miracles transparent as glass to the Greek crowd, 
yea, a metaphorical-conceptual interpretation of 
music? And with such mysteries of thought as 
are to be found in Pindar do you think the wonder- 
ful poet could have wished to elucidate the music 
already strikingly distinct? Should we here not 
be forced to an insight into the very nature of the 
lyricist — the artistic man, who to himself must in- 
terpret music through the symbolism of metaphors 
and emotions, but who has nothing to communicate 
to the listener ; an artist who, in complete aloof- 
ness, even forgets those who stand eagerly listening 
near him. And as the lyricist his hymns, so the 
people sing the folk-song, for themselves, out of in- 
most impulse, unconcerned whether the word is com- 
prehensible to him who does not join in the song. 
Let us think of our own experiences in the realm 
of higher art-music : what did we understand of the 
text of a Mass of Palestrina, of a Cantata of Bach, 
of an Oratorio of Handel, if we ourselves perhaps 
did not join in singing ? Only for him who joins in 
singing do lyric poetry and vocal music exist ; the 
listener stands before it as before absolute music. 

But now the opera begins, according to the clear- 
est testimonies, with the demand of the listener to 
tmderstand the word. 

What ? The listener demands ? The word is to 
be understood? 


But to bring music into the service of a series of 
metaphors and conceptions, to use it as a means to 
an end, to the strengthening and elucidation of such 
conceptions and metaphors — such a peculiar pre- 
sumption as is found in the concept of an "opera," 
reminds me of that ridiculous person who endeavours 
to lift himself up into the air with his own arms; 
that which this fool and which the opera accord- 
ing to that idea attempt are absolute impossi- 
bilities. That idea of the opera does not demand 
perhaps an abuse from music but — as I said — 
an impossibility. Music never can become a 
means ; one may push, screw, torture it ; as tone, as 
roll of the drum, in its crudest and simplest stages, 
it still defeats poetry and abases the latter to its 
reflection. The opera as a species of art according 
to that concept is therefore not only an aber- 
ration of music, but an erroneous conception of 
aesthetics. If I herewith, after all, justify the nature 
of the opera for aesthetics, I am of course far from 
justifying at the same time bad opera music or bad 
opera-verses. The worst music can still mean, as 
compared with the best poetry, the Dionysean 
world-subsoil, and the worst poetry can be mirror, 
image and reflection of this subsoil, if together with 
the best music : as certainly, namely, as the single 
tone against the metaphor is already Dionysean, 
and the single metaphor together with idea and 
word against music is already Apollonian. Yea, 
even bad music together with bad poetry can still 
inform as to the nature of music and poesy. 

When therefore Schopenhauer felt Bellini's 
'' Norma," for example, as the fulfilment of tragedy. 


with regard to that opera's music and poetry, then he, 
in Dionysean-Apollonian emotion and self-forgetful- 
ness,was quite entitled to do so, because he perceived 
music and poetry in their most general, as it were, 
philosophical value, as music and poetry : but with 
that judgment he showed a poorly educated taste, — 
for good taste always has historical perspective. To 
us, who intentionally in this investigation avoid any 
question of the historic value of an art-phenomenon 
and endeavour to focus only the phenomenon itself, 
in its unaltered eternal meaning, and consequently 
in its highest type, too, — to us the art-species of the 
"opera" seems to be justified as much as the folk- 
song, in so far as we find in both that union of the 
Dionysean and Apollonian and are permitted to 
assume for the opera — namely for the highest type 
of the opera — an origin analogous to that of the 
folk-song. Only in so far as the opera historically 
known to us has a completely different origin from 
that of the folk-song do we reject this "opera," 
which stands in the same relation to that generic 
notion just defended by us, as the marionette does 
to a living human being. It is certain, music never 
can become a means in the service of the text, 
but must always defeat the text, yet music must 
become bad when the composer interrupts every 
Dionysean force rising within himself by an anxious 
regard for the words and gestures of his marion- 
ettes. If the poet of the opera-text has offered him 
nothing more than the usual schematised figures 
with their Egyptian regularity, then the freer, more 
unconditional, more Dionysean is the development 
of the music ; and the more she despises all dra- 


matic requirements, so much the higher will be the 
value of the opera. In this sense it is true the opera 
is, at its best, good music, and nothing but music : 
whereas the jugglery performed at the same time 
is, as it were, only a fantastic disguise of the orches- 
tra, above all, of the most important instruments 
the orchestra has : the singers ; and from this jug- 
glery the judicious listener turns away laughing. If 
the mass is diverted by this very jugglery and only 
permits the music with it, then the mob fares as all 
those do who value the frame of a good picture 
higher than the picture itself. Who treats such 
naive aberrations with a serious or even pathetic 
reproach ? 

But what will the opera mean as " dramatic " 
music, in its possibly farthest distance from pure 
music, efficient in itself, and purely Dionysean ? 
Let us imagine a passionate drama full of inci- 
dents which carries away the spectator, and which 
is already sure of success by its plot : what will 
" dramatic " music be able to add, if it does not take 
away something ? Firstly, it will take away much : 
for in every moment where for once the Dionysean 
power of music strikes the listener, the eye is dimmed 
that sees the action, the eye that became absorbed 
in the individuals appearing before it : the listener 
now forgets the drama and becomes alive again to it 
only when the Dionysean spell over him has been 
broken. In so far, however, as music makes the 
listener forget the drama, it is not yet " dramatic " 
music : but what kind of music is that which is not 
allowed to exercise any Dionysean power over the 
listener? And how is it possible? It is possible 


as purely conventional symbolism, out of which con- 
vention has sucked all natural strength : as music 
which has diminished to symbols of remembrance : 
and its effect aims at reminding the spectator of 
something, which at the sight of the drama must not 
escape him lest he should misunderstand it : as a 
trumpet signal is an invitation for the horse to trot. 
Lastly, before the drama commenced and in inter- 
ludes or during tedious passages, doubtful as to 
dramatic effect, yea, even in its highest moments, 
there would still be permitted another species of 
remembrance-music, no longer purely conventional, 
namely emotional-music, music, as a stimulant to 
dull or wearied nerves. I am able to distinguish 
in the so-called dramatic music these two elements 
only : a conventional rhetoric and remembrance- 
music, and a sensational-music with an effect essen- 
tially physical : and thus it vacillates between the 
noise of the drum and the signal-horn, like the mood 
of the warrior who goes into the battle. But now 
the mind, regaling itself on pure music and educated 
through comparison, demands a masqueradeiox those 
two wrong tendencies of music; "Remembrance" 
and "Emotion" are to be played, but in good music, 
which must be in itself enjoyable, yea, valuable ; 
what despair for the dramatic musician, who must 
mask the big drum by good music, which, however, 
must nevertheless have no purely musical, but only 
a stimulating effect ! And now comes the great 
Philistine public nodding its thousand heads and 
enjoys this " dramatic music" which is ever ashamed 
of itself, enjoys it to the very last morsel, without 
perceiving anything of its shame and embarrass- 


ment. Rather the public feels its skin agreeably 
tickled, for indeed homage is being rendered in 
all forms and ways to the public ! To the pleasure- 
hunting, dull-eyed sensualist, who needs excite- 
ment, to the conceited "educated person" who 
has accustomed himself to good drama and good 
music as to good food, without after all making 
much out of it, to the forgetful and absent-minded 
egoist, who must be led back to the work of art with 
force and with signal-horns because selfish plans 
continually pass through his mind aiming at gain 
or pleasure. Woe-begone dramatic musicians ! 
" Draw near and view your Patrons' faces ! The 
half are coarse, the half are cold." " Why should you 
rack, poor foolish Bards, for ends like these the gra- 
cious Muses?"* And that the muses are tormented, 
even tortured and flayed, these veracious miserable 
ones do not themselves deny ! 

We had assumed a passionate drama, carrying 
away the spectator, which even without music would 
be sure of its effect. I fear that that in it which is 
" poetry" and not action proper will stand in relation 
to true poetry as dramatic music to music in general: 
it will be remembrance- and emotional-poetry. 
Poetry will serve as a means, in order to recall in 
a conventional fashion feelings and passions, the 
expression of which has been found by real poets 
and has become celebrated, yea, normal with them. 
Further, this poetry will be expected in dangerous 
moments to assist the proper "action," — whether 
a criminalistic horror-story or an exhibition of 

* A quotation from Goethe's "Faust" : Part I., lines 91, 
92, and 95, 96. — Tr. 


witchery mad with shifting the scenes, — and to 
spread a covering veil over the crudeness of the 
action itself. Shamefully conscious that the poetry 
is only masquerade which cannot bear the light of 
day, such a "dramatic" rime-jingle clamours now 
for " dramatic " music, as on the other hand again 
the poetaster of such dramas is met after one-fourth 
of the way by the dramatic musician with his talent 
for the drum and the signal-horn and his shyness of 
genuine music, trusting in itself and self-sufficient. 
And now they see one another ; and these Apol- 
lonian and Dionysean caricatures, this par nobile 
fratrum, embrace one another ! 

Homer's Contest 

Preface to an Unwritten Book (1872) 

\ When one speaks of '' humanity " the notion lies 

/ at the bottom, that humanity is that which separates 

I and distinguishes man from Nature. But such a 

I distinction does not in reality exist : the " natural " 

I qualities and the properly called " human " ones 

I have grown up inseparably together? Man in his 

highest and noblest capacities is Nature and bears 

in himself her awful twofold character. His abilities 

generally considered dreadful and inhuman are 

perhaps indeed the fertile soil, out of which alone 

can grow forth all humanity in emotions, actions 

and works. 

Thus the Greeks, the most humane men of ancient 
times, have in themselves a trait of cruelty, of tiger- 
like pleasure in destruction : a trait, which in the 
grotesquely magnified image of the Hellene, in 
Alexander the Great, is very plainly visible, which, 
however, in their whole history, as well as in their 
mythology, must terrify us who meet them with 
the emasculate idea of modern humanity. When 
Alexander has the feet of Batis, the brave defender 
of Gaza, bored through, and binds the living body to 
his chariot in order to drag him about exposed to 
the scorn of his soldiers, that is a sickening cari- 
cature of Achilles, who at night ill-uses Hector's 
corpse by a similar trailing ; but even this trait has 
for us something offensive, something which inspires 


horror. It gives us a peep into the abysses of hatred. 
With the same sensation perhaps we stand before 
the bloody and insatiable self-laceration of two 
Greek parties, as for example in the Corcyrean 
revolution. When the victor, in a fight of the cities, 
according to the law of warfare, executes the whole 
male population and sells all the women and children 
into slavery, we see, in the sanction of such a law, 
that the Greek deemed it a positive necessity to 
allow his hatred to break forth unimpeded ; in such 
moments the compressed and swollen feeling re- 
lieved itself; the tiger bounded forth, a voluptuous 
cruelty shone out of his fearful eye. Why had the 
Greek sculptor to represent again and again war and 
fights in innumerable repetitions, extended human 
bodies whose sinews are tightened through hatred 
or through the recklessness of triumph, fighters 
wounded and writhing with pain, or the dying with 
the last rattle in their throat ? Why did the whole 
Greek world exult in the fighting scenes of the 
" Iliad "? I am afraid, we do not understand them 
enough in "Greek fashion," and that we should 
even shudder, if for once we did understand them 

But what lies, as the mother-womb of the Hellenic, 
behind the Homeric world ? In the latter, by the 
extremely artistic definiteness, and the calm and 
purity of the lines we are already lifted far above 
the purely material amalgamation : its colours, by 
an artistic deception, appear lighter, milder, warmer; 
its men, in this coloured, warm illumination, appear 
better and more sympathetic — but where do we look, 
if, no longer guided and protected by Homer's hand. 

homer's contest S3 

we step backwards into the pre- Homeric world ? 
Only into night and horror, into the products of a 
fancy accustomed to the horrible. What earthly 
existence is reflected in the loathsome-awful theo- 
gonian lore : a life swayed only by the children of the 
night, strife, amorous desires, deception, age and 
death. Let us imagine the suffocating atmosphere 
of Hesiod's poem, still thickened and darkened and 
without all the mitigations and purifications, which 
poured over Hellas from Delphi and the numerous 
seats of the gods ! If we mix this thickened Boeotian 
air with the grim voluptuousness of the Etruscans, 
then such a reality would extort from us a world of 
myths within which Uranos, Kronos and Zeus and 
the struggles of the Titans would appear as a relief. 
Combat in this brooding atmosphere is salvation and 
safety ; the cruelty of victory is the summit of life's 
glories. And just as in truth the idea of Greek law 
has developed from murder and expiation of murder, 
so also nobler Civilisation takes her first wreath of 
victory from the altar of the expiation of murder. 
Behind that bloody age stretches a wave-furrow deep 
into Hellenic history. The names of Orpheus, of 
Musaeus, and their cults indicate to what conse- 
quences the uninterrupted sight of a world of warfare 
and cruelty led — to the loathing of existence, to the 
conception of this existence as a punishment to be 
borne to the end, to the belief in the identity of ex- 
istence and indebtedness. But these particular con- 
clusions are not specifically Hellenic ; through them 
Greece comes into contact with India and the Orient 
generally. The Hellenic genius had ready yet an- 
other answer to the question : what does a life of 


fighting and of victory mean ? and gives this answer 
in the whole breadth of Greek history. 

In order to understand the latter we must start 
from the fact that the Greek genius admitted the 
existing fearful impulse, and deemed it justified ; 
whereas in the Orphic phase of thought was con- 
tained the belief that life with such an impulse as 
its root would not be worth living. Strife and the 
pleasure of victory were acknowledged ; and nothing 
separates the Greek world more from ours than the 
colouring, derived hence, of some ethical ideas, e.g., of 
Eris and ol Envy. 

When the traveller Pausanius during his wander- 
ings through Greece visited the Helicon, a very old 
copy of the first didactic poem of the Greeks, " The 
Works and Days " of Hesiod, was shown to him, in- 
scribed upon plates of lead and severely damaged 
by time and weather. However he recognised this 
much, that, unlike the usual copies, it had not at its 
head that little hymnus on Zeus, but began at once 
with the declaration : " Two Eris-goddesses are on 
earth." This is one of the most noteworthy Hellenic 
thoughts and worthy to be impressed on the new- 
comer immediately at the entrance-gate of Greek 
ethics. " One would like to praise the one Eris, just 
as much as to blame the other, if one uses one's 
reason. For these two goddesses have quite different 
dispositions. For the one, the cruel one, furthers the 
evil war and feud ! No mortal likes her, but under 
the yoke of need one pays honour to the burdensome 
Eris, according to the decree of the immortals. She, 
as the elder, gave birth to black night. Zeus the high- 
ruling one, however, placed the other Eris upon the 

homer's contest 55 

roots of the earth and among men as a much better 
one. She urges even the unskilled man to work, and 
if one who lacks property beholds another who is 
rich, then he hastens to sow in similar fashion and to 
plant and to put his house in order ; the neighbour 
vies with the neighbour who strives after fortune. 
Good is this Eris to men. The potter also has a 
grudge against the potter, and the carpenter against 
the carpenter ; the beggar envies the beggar, and the 
singer the singer." 

The two last verses which treat of the odium figu- 
linum appear to our scholars to be incomprehensible 
in this place. According to their judgment the pre- 
dicates : " grudge " and " envy " fit only the nature of 
the evil Eris, and for this reason they do not hesitate 
to designate these verses as spurious or thrown by 
chance into this place. For that judgment however 
a system of Ethics other than the Hellenic must have 
inspired these scholars unawares ; for in these verses 
to the good Eris Aristotle finds no offence. And not 
only Aristotle but the whole Greek antiquity thinks 
of spite and envy otherwise than we do and agrees 
with Hesiod, \vho first designates as an evil one that 
Eris who leads men against one another to a hostile 
wEuFoTextermination, and secondly praises another 
lEris'as the good one, who as jealousy, spite, envy, in- 
cffeTmefi to activity but not to the action of war to 
the knife but to the action o{ contest. The Greek is 
envious and conceives of this quality not as a blemish, 
but as the effect of a beneficent deity. What a gulf 
of ethical judgment between us and him ? Because 
he is envious he also feels, with every superfluity of 
honour, riches, splendour and fortune, the envious 


eye of a god resting on himself, and he fears this 
envy ; in this case the latter reminds him of the 
transitoriness of every human lot ; he dreads his 
very happiness and, sacrificing the best of it, he bows 
before the divine envy. This conception does not 
perhaps estrange him from his gods ; their signifi- 
cance on the contrary is expressed by the thought 
that with them man in whose soul jealousy is en- 
kindled against every other living being, is never 
allowed to venture into contest. In the fight of 
Thamyris with the Muses, of Marsyas with Apollo, 
in the heart-moving fate of Niobe appears the hor- 
rible opposition of the two powers, who must never 
fight with one another, man and god. 

The greater and more sublime however a Greek 
is, the brighter in him appears the ambitious flanie, 
devouring everybody who runs with him on the same 
track. Aristotle once made a list of such contests 
on a large scale ; among them is the most striking 
instance how even a dead person can still incite a 
living one to consuming jealousy ; thus for example 
Aristotle designates the relation between the Kolo- 
phonian Xenophanes and Homer. We do not under- 
stand this attack on the national hero of poetry in 
all its strength, if we do not imagine, as later on also 
with Plato, the root of this attack to be the ardent 
desire to step into the place of the overthrown poet 
and to inherit his fame. Every great Hellene hands 
on the torch of the contest ; at every great virtue a 
newlight is kindled. If the young Themistoclescould 
not sleep at the thought of the laurels of Miltiades so 
his early awakened bent released itself only in the 
long emulation with Aristides in that uniquely note- 

homer's contest 57 

worthy, purely instinctive genius of his political 
activity, which Thucydides describes. How charac- 
teristic are both question and answer, when a notable 
opponent of Pericles is asked, whether he or Pericles 
was the better wrestler in the city, and he gives the 
answer : " Even if I throw him down he denies that 
he has fallen, attains his purpose and convinces those 
who saw him fall." 

If one wants to see that sentiment unashamed in 
its naive expressions, the sentiment as to the neces- 
sity of contest lest the State's welfare be threatened, 
one should think of the original meaning of Ostra- 
cism, as for example the Ephesians pronounced it at 
the banishment of Hermodor. " Among us nobody 
shall be the best; if however someone is the best, then 
let him be so elsewhere and among others." Why 
should not someone be the best ? Because with that 
the contest would fail, and the eternal life-basis of 
the Hellenic State would be endangered. Later on 
Ostracism receives quite another position with regard 
to the contest ; it is applied, when the danger be- 
comes obvious that one of the great contesting poli- 
ticians and party-leaders feels himself urged on in 
the heat of the conflict towards harmful and destruc- 
tive measures and dubious coups d'etat. The original 
sense of this peculiar institution however is not that 
of a safety-valve but that of a stimulant. The all- 
excelling individual was to be removed in order that 
the contest of forces might re-awaken, a thought 
which is hostile to the " exclusiveness " of genius 
in the modern sense but which assumes that in 
the natural order of things there are always several 
geniuses which incite one another to action, as much 


also as they hold one another within the bounds 
of moderation. That is the kernel of the Hellenic 
contest-conception : it abominates autocracy, and 
fears its dangers ; it desires as a preventive against 
the genius — a second genius. 

Every natural gift must develop itself by contest. 
Thus the Hellenic national pedagogy demands, 
whereas modern educators fear nothing as much as, 
the unchaining of the so-called ambition. Here one 
fears selfishness as the '' evil in itself" — with the ex- 
ception of the Jesuits, who agree with the Ancients 
and who, possibly, for that reason, are the most effi- 
cient educators of our time. They seem to believe 
that Selfishness, i.e., the individual element is only 
the most powerful agens but that it obtains its^har- 
acter as " good " and "evil" essentially from tbe.aims 
towards which it strives. To the Ancients however 
the aim of the agonistic education was the welfare 
of the whole, of the civic society. Every Athenian 
for instance was to cultivate his Ego in contest, so 
far that it should be of the highest service to Athens 
and should do the least harm. It was not unmea- 
sured and immeasurable as modern ambition gener- 
ally is; the youththoughtof the welfare of his native 
town when he vied with others in running, throwing 
or singing ; it was her glory that he wanted to in- 
crease with his own ; it was to his town's gods that 
he dedicated the wreaths which the umpires as a 
mark of honour set upon his head. Every Greek 
from childhood felt within himself the burning wish 
to be in the contest of the towns an instrument for 
the welfare of his own town ; in this Tiis selfishness 
was kindled into ilame, by this his selfishness was 

homer's contest 59 

bridled and restricted. Tlierefore the individuals in 
antiquity were freer, because their aims were nearer 
and more tangible. Modern man, on the contrary, 
is everywhere hampered by infinity, like the fleet- 
footed Achilles in the allegory of the Eleate Zeno : 
infinity impedes him, he does not even overtake the 

But as the youths to be educated were brought 
up struggling against one another, so their educators 
were in turn in emulation amongst themselves. Dis- 
trustfully jealous, the great musical masters, Pindar 
and Simonides, stepped side by side ; in rivalry 
the sophist, the higher teacher of antiquity meets 
his fellow-sophist ; even the most universal kind 
of instruction, through the drama, was imparted to 
the people only under the form of an enormous 
wrestling of the great musical and dramatic artists. 
How wonderful ! " And even the artist has a grudge 
against the artist ! " And the modern man dislikes 
in an artist nothing so much as the personal battle- 
feeling, whereas the Greek recognises the artist 
only in such a personal struggle. There where the 
modern suspects weakness of the work of art, the 
Hellene seeks the source of his highest strength ! 
That, which by way of example in Plato is of special 
artistic importance in his dialogues, is usually the 
result of an emulation with the art of the orators, 
of the sophists, of the dramatists of his time, in- 
vented deliberately in order that at the end he 
could say : " Behold, I can also do what my great 
rivals can ; yea I can do it even better than they. 
No Protagoras has composed such beautiful myths 
as I, no dramatist such a spirited and fascinating 


whole as the Symposion, no orator penned such an 
oration as I put up in the Georgias — and now I 
reject all that together and condemn all imitative 
art ! Only the contest made me a poet, a sophist, 
an orator ! " What a problem unfolds itself there 
before us, if we ask about the relationship between 
the contest and the conception of the work of art ! — 
If on the other hand we remove the contest from 
Greek life, then we look at once into the pre-Homeric 
abyss of horrible savagery, hatred, and pleasure in 
destruction. This phenomenon alas ! shows itself 
frequently when a great personality was, owing to an 
enormously brilliant deed, suddenly withdrawn from 
the contest and became hors de concours according 
to his, and his fellow-citizens' judgment. Almost 
without exception the effect is awful ; and if one 
usually draws from these consequences the conclu- 
sion that the Greek was unable to bear glory and 
fortune, one should say more exactly that he was 
unable to bear fame without further struggle, and 
fortune at the end of the contest. There is no more 
distinct instance than the fate of Miltiades. Placed 
upon a solitary height and lifted far above every 
fellow-combatant through his incomparable success 
at Marathon, he feels a low thirsting for revenge 
awakened within himself against a citizen of Para, 
with whom he had been at enmity long ago. To 
satisfy his desire he misuses reputation, the public 
exchequer and civic honour and disgraces himself. 
Conscious of his ill-success he falls into unworthy 
machinations. He forms a clandestine and godless 
connection with Timo a priestess of Demeter, and 
enters at night the sacred temple, from which every 

homer's contest 6 1 

man was excluded. After he has leapt over the 
wall and comes ever nearer the shrine of the goddess, 
the dreadful horror of a panic-like terror suddenly 
seizes him ; almost prostrate and unconscious he 
feels himself driven back and leaping the wall once 
more, he falls down paralysed and severely injured. 
The siege must be raised and a disgraceful death 
impresses its seal upon a brilliant heroic career, in 
order to darken it for all posterity. After the battle 
at Marathon the envy of the celestials has caught 
him. And this divine envy breaks into flames when 
it beholds man wfthout rival, without opponent, on 
the solitary height of glory. He now has beside him 
only the gods — and therefore he has them against 
him. These however betray him into a deed of the 
Hybris, and under it he collapses. 

Let us well observe that just as Miltiades perishes 
so the noblest Greek States perish when they, by 
merit and fortune, have arrived from the racecourse 
at the temple of Nike. Athens, which had de- 
stroyed the independence of her allies and avenged 
with severity the rebellions of her subjected foes, 
Sparta, which after the battle of .^gospotamoi used 
her preponderance over Hellas in a still harsher and 
more cruel fashion, both these, as in the case of Milti- 
ades, brought about their ruin through deeds of the 
Hybris, as a proof that without envy, jealousy, and 
contesting ambition the Hellenic State like the Hel- 
Tenic man degenerates. He becomes bad and cruel, 
thirsting for revenge, and godless ; in short, he be- 
comes" pre-Homeric" — and then it needs only a 
panic in order to bring about his fall and to crush 
him. Sparta and Athens surrender to Persia, as 


Themistocles and Alcibiades have done ; they betray 
Hellenism after they have given up the noblest Hel- 
lenic fundamental thought, the contest, and AleJT- 
ander, the coarsened copy and abbreviation of Greek 
history, now invents the cosmopolitan Hellene, and 
the so-called " Hellenism." 

The Relation of Schopenhauer's 
Philosophy to a German Culture 

Preface to an Unwritten Book (1872) 

In dear vile Germany culture now lies so decayed 
in the streets, jealousy of all that is great rules so 
shamelessly, and the general tumult of those who 
race for " Fortune " resounds so deafeningly, that one 
must have a strong faith, almost in the sense of credo 
quia absurdum est, in order to hope still for a growing 
Culture, and above all — in opposition to the press 
with her " public opinion " — to be able to work by 
public teaching. With violence must those, in whose 
hearts lies the immortal care for the people, free 
themselves from all the inrushing impressions of 
that which is just now actual and valid, and evoke 
the appearance of reckoning them indifferent things. 
They must appear so, because they want to think, 
and because a loathsome sight and a confused noise, 
perhaps even mixed with the trumpet-flourishes of 
war-glory, disturb their thinking, and above all, 
because they want to believe in the German character 
and because with this faith they would lose their 
strength. Do not find fault with these believers if 
they look from their distant aloofness and from the 
heights towards their Promised Land ! They fear 
those experiences, to which the kindly disposed 
foreigner surrenders himself, when he lives among 
the Germans, and must be surprised how little 
German life corresponds to those great individuals, 
works and actions, which, in his kind disposition he 
5 ^5 


has learned to revere as the true German character. 
Where the German cannot lift himself into the 
sublime he makes an impression less than the medi- 
ocre. Even the celebrated German scholarship, in 
which a number of the most useful domestic and 
homely virtues such as faithfulness, self-restriction, 
industry, moderation, cleanliness appear transposed 
into a purer atmosphere and, as it were, transfigured, 
is by no means the result of these virtues ; looked 
at closely, the motive urging to unlimited knowledge 
appears in Germany much more like a defect, a gap, 
than an abundance of forces, it looks almost like the 
consequence of a needy formless atrophied life and 
even like a flight from the moral narrow-mindedness 
and maKce to which the German without such diver- 
sions is subjected, and which also in spite of that 
scholarship, yea still within scholarship itself, often 
break forth. As the true virtuosi of philistinism 
the Germans are at home in narrowness of life, 
discerning and judging ; if any one will carry them 
above themselves into the sublime, then they make 
themselves heavy as lead, and as such lead-weights 
they hang to their truly great men, in order to pull 
them down out of the ether to the level of their 
own necessitous indigence. Perhaps this Philistine 
homeliness may be only the degeneration of a 
genuine German virtue — a profound submersion into 
the detail, the minute, the nearest and into the 
mysteries of the individual — but this virtue grown 
mouldy is now worse than the most open vice, espe- 
cially since one has now become conscious, with 
gladness of the heart, of this quality, even to lite- 
rary self-glorification. Now the "Educated" among 


the proverbially so cultured Germans and the "Philis- 
tines" among the, as everybody knows, so uncul- 
tured Germans shake hands in public and agree 
with one another concerning the way in which hence- 
forth one will have to write, compose poetry, paint, 
make music and even philosophise, yea — rule, so as 
neither to stand too much aloof from the culture of 
the one, nor to give offence to the " homeliness " 
of the other. This they call now "The German 
Culture of our times." Well, it is only necessary to 
inquire after the characteristic by which that " edu- 
cated " person is to be recognised ; now that we 
know that his foster-brother, the German Philistine, 
makes himself known as such to all the world, with- 
out bashfulness, as it were, after innocence is lost. 

The educated person nowadays is educated above 
all "historically" by his historic consciousness he 
saves himself from the sublime in which the Philis- 
tine succeeds by his " homeliness." No longer that 
enthusiasm which history inspires — as Goethe was 
allowed to suppose — but just the blunting of all 
enthusiasm is now the goal of these admirers of the 
nil admirari, when they try to conceive everything 
historically ; to them however we should exclaim : 
Ye are the fools of all centuries ! History will make 
to you only those confessions, which you are worthy 
to receive. The world has been at all times full of 
trivialities and nonentities ; to your historic hanker- 
ing just these and only these unveil themselves. By 
your thousands you may pounce upon an epoch — 
you will afterwards hunger as before and be allowed 
to boast of your sort of starved soundness. Illam 
ipsam quam iactant sanitatem nonfirmitate sedieiunio 


consequuntur. {Dialogus de oratoribus,cap. 2i,.) His- 
tory has not thought fit to tell you anything that is 
essential, but scorning and invisible she stood by 
your side, slipping into this one's hand some state 
proceedings, into that one's an ambassadorial report, 
into another's a date or an etymology or a pragmatic 
cobweb. Do you really believe yourself able to 
reckon up history like an addition sum, and do you 
consider your common intellect and your mathe- 
matical education good enough for that ? How it 
must vex you to hear, that others narrate things, 
out of the best known periods, which you will never 
conceive, never ! 

If now to this "education," calling itself historic but 
destitute of enthusiasm, and to the hostile Philistine 
activity, foaming with rage against all that is great, 
is added that third brutal and excited company of 
those who race after "Fortune" — then that in suinma 
results in such a confused shrieking and such a limb- 
dislocating turmoil that the thinker with stopped-up 
ears and blindfolded eyes flees into the most solitary 
wilderness, — where he may see, what those never will 
see, where he must hear sounds which rise to him out 
of all the depths of nature and come down to him 
from the stars. Here he confers with the great prob- 
lems floating towards him, whose voices of course 
sound just as comfortless-awful, as unhistoric-eternal. 
The feeble person flees back from their cold breath, 
and the calculating one runs right through them 
without perceiving them. They deal worst, however, 
with the "educated man" who at times bestows great 
pains upon them. To him these phantoms transform 
themselves into conceptual cobwebs and hollow 


sound-figures. Grasping after them he imagines he 
has philosophy; in order to search for them he cHmbs 
about in the so-called history of philosophy — and 
when at last he has collected and piled up quite a 
cloud of such abstractions and stereotyped patterns, 
then it may happen to him that a real thinker crosses 
his path and — puffs them away. What a desperate 
annoyance indeed to meddle with philosophy as an 
— " educated person " ! From time to time it is 
true it appears to him as if the impossible connection 
of philosophy with that which nowadays gives itself 
airs as " German Culture " has become possible ; 
some mongrel dallies and ogles between the two 
spheres and confuses fantasy on this side and on the 
other. Meanwhile however one piece of advice is to 
be given to the Germans, if they do not wish to let 
themselves be confused. They may put to them- 
selves the question about everything that they now 
call Culture : is this the hoped-for German Culture, 
so serious and creative, so redeeming for the German 
mind, so purifying for the German virtues that their 
only philosopher in this century, Arthur Schopen- 
hauer, should have to espouse its cause ? 

Here you have the philosopher — now search for 
the Culture proper to him ! And if you are able to 
divine what kind of culture that would have to be, 
which would correspond to such a philosopher, then 
you have, in this divination, already passed sentence 
on all your culture and on yourselves ! 

Philosophy during the Tragic Age 
of the Greeks 



{Probably 1874) 

If we know the aims of men who are strangers to 
us, it is sufficient for us to approve of or condemn 
them as wholes. Those who stand nearer to us we 
judge according to the means by which they further 
their aims ; we often disapprove of their aims, but 
love them for the sake of their means and the style 
of their volition. Now philosophical systems are 
absolutely true only to their founders, to all later 
philosophers they are usually one big mistake, and 
to feebler minds a sum of mistakes and truths ; at 
any rate if regarded as highest aim they are an 
error, and in so far reprehensible. Therefore many 
disapprove of every philosopher, because his aim is 
not theirs ; they are those whom I called " strangers 
to us." Whoever on the contrary finds any pleasure 
at all in great men finds pleasure also in such 
systems, be they ever so erroneous, for they all 
have in them one point which is irrefutable, a 
personal touch, and colour ; one can use them in 
order to form a picture of the philosopher, just as 
from a plant growing in a certain place one can 
form conclusions as to the soil. That mode of life, of 
viewing human affairs at any rate, has existed once 
and is therefore possible ; the "system " is the growth 
in this soil or at least a part of this system. . . . 



I narrate the history of those philosophers simpli- 
fied : I shall bring into relief only that point in 
every system which is a little bit oi personality, and 
belongs to that which is irrefutable, and indiscus- 
sable, which history has to preserve : it is a first 
attempt to regain and recreate those natures by 
comparison, and to letthe polyphony of Greek nature 
at least resound once again : the task is, to bring to 
light that which we must always love and revere and 
of which no later knowledge can rob us : the great 

( Towards the end of 1 879) 

This attempt to relate the history of the earlier 
Greek philosophers distinguishes itself from similar 
attempts by its brevity. This has been accomplished 
by mentioning but a small number of the doctrines 
of every philosopher, i.e., by incompleteness. Those 
doctrines, however, have been selected in which the 
personal element of the philosopher re-echoes most 
strongly ; whereas a complete enumeration of all pos- 
sible propositions handed down to us — as is the cus- 
tom in text-books — merely brings about one thing, 
the absolute silencing of the personal element. It is 
through this that those records become so tedious ; 
for in systems which have been refuted it is only this 
personal "felement that can still interest us, for this 
alone is eternally irrefutable. It is possible to 
shape the picture of a man out of three anecdotes. I 
endeavour to bring into relief three anecdotes out of 
every system and abandon the remainder. 


There are opponents of philosophy, and one does 
well to listen to them ; especially if they dissuade the 
distempered heads of Germans from metaphysics 
and on the other hand preach to them purification- 
through the Physis, as Goethe did, or healing through 
Music, as Wagner. The physicians of the people 1 
condemn philosophy ; he, therefore, who wants to 
justify it, must show to what purpose healthy nations 
use and have used philosophy. If he can show that, 
perhaps even the sick people will benefit by learning 
why philosophy is harmful just to them. There are 
indeed good instances of a health which can exist 
without any philosophy or with quite a moderate, 
almost a toying use of it ; thus the Romans at their 
best period lived without philosophy. But where is 
tobefoundtheinstance of a nation becoming diseased 
whom philosophy had restored to health ? When- 
ever philosophy showed itself helping, saving, pro- 
phylactic, it was with healtliy people ; it made sick 
people still more ill. If ever a nation was disinteg- 
rated and but loosely connected with the individ- 
uals, never has philosophy bound these individuals 
closer to the whole. If ever an individual was will- 
ing to stand aside and plant around himself the hedge 
of self-sufficiency, philosophy was always ready to 
isolaie him still more and to destroy him through 
isolation. She is dangerous where she is not in 
her full right, and it is only the health of a nation 
but not that of every nation which gives her this 

Let us now look around for the highest authority 


as to what constitutes the health of a nation. The 
Greeks, as the truly healthy nation, have justified 
philosophy once for all by having philosophised ; 
and that indeed more than all other nations. They 
could not even stop at the right time, for still in their 
withered age they comported themselves as heated 
votaries of philosophy, although they understood by 
it only the pious sophistries and the sacrosanct hair- 
splittings of Christian dogmatics. They themselves 
have much lessened their merit for barbarian pos- 
terity by not being able to stop at the right time, 
because that posterity in its uninstructed and im- 
petuous youth necessarily became entangled in those 
artfully woven nets and ropes. 

On the contrary, the Greek knew how to begin at 
the right time, and this lesson, when one ought to 
begin philosophising, they teach more distinctly than 
any other nation. For it should not be begun when 
trouble comes as perhaps some presume who derive 
philosophy from moroseness; no, but in good fortune, 
in mature manhood, out of the midst of the fervent 
serenity of a brave and victorious man's estate. The 
fact that the Greeks philosophised at that timethrows 
light on the nature of philosophy and her task as 
well as on the nature of the Greeks themselves. Had 
they at that time been such commonsense and pre- 
cocious experts and gayards as the learned Philis- 
tine of our days perhaps imagines, or had their life 
been only a state of voluptuous soaring, chiming, 
breathing and feeling, as the unlearned visionary is 
pleased to assume, then the spring of philosophy 
would not have come to light among them. At the 
best there would have come forth a brook soon 


trickling away in the sand or evaporating into fogs, 
but never that broad river flowing forth with the 
proud beat of its waves, the river which we know as 
Greek Philosophy. 

True, it has been eagerly pointed out how much 
the Greeks could find and learn abroad, in the Orient, 
and how many different things they may easily have 
brought from there. Of course an odd spectacle re- 
sulted, when certain scholars brought together the 
alleged masters from the Orient and the possible dis- 
ciples from Greece, and exhibited Zarathustra near 
Heraclitus, the Hindoos near the Eleates, the Egyp- 
tians near Empedocles, or even Anaxagoras among 
the Jews and Pythagoras among the Chinese. In 
detail little has been determined ; but we should in 
no way object to the general idea, if people did 
not burden us with the conclusion that therefore 
Philosophy had only been imported into Greece 
and was not indigenous to the soil, yea, that she, as 
something foreign, had possibly ruined rather than 
improved the Greek. Nothing is more foolish than 
to swear by the fact that the Greeks had an abori- 
ginal culture ; no, they rather absorbed all the culture 
flourishing among other nations, and they advanced 
so far, just because they understood how to hurl 
the spear further from the very spot where another 
nation had let it rest. They were admirable in the 
art of learning productively, and so, like them, we 
ought to learn from our neighbours, with a view to 
Life not to pedantic knowledge, using everything 
learnt as a foothold whence to leap high and still 
higher than our neighbour. The questions as to the 
beginning of philosophy are quite negligible, for 


everywhere in the beginning there is the crude, the 
unformed, the empty and the ugly; and in all things 
only the higher stages come into consideration. He 
who in the place of Greek philosophy prefers to 
concern himself with that of Egypt and Persia, 
because the latter are perhaps more "original" and 
certainly older, proceeds just as ill-advisedly as 
those who cannot be at ease before they have traced 
back the Greek mythology, so grand and profound, 
to such physical trivialities as sun, lightning, weather 
and fog, as its prime origins, and who fondly imagine 
they have rediscovered for instance in the restricted 
worship of the one celestial vault among the other 
Indo-Germans a purer form of religion than the poly- 
theistic worship of the Greek had been. The road 
towards the beginning always leads into barbarism, 
and he who is concerned with the Greeks ought 
always to keep in mind the fact that the unsubdued 
thirst for knowledge in itself always barbarises just 
as much as the hatred of knowledge, and that the 
Greeks have subdued their inherently insatiable 
thirst for knowledge by their regard for Life, by an 
ideal need of Life, — since they wished to live imme- 
diately that which they learnt. The Greeks also 
philosophised as men of culture and with the aims 
of culture,and therefore saved themselves the trouble 
of inventing once again the elements of philosophy 
and knowledge out of some autochthonous conceit, 
and with a will they at once set themselves to fill 
out, enhance, raise and purify these elements they 
had taken over in such a way, that only now in a 
higher sense and in a purer sphere they became 
inventors. For they discovered the typical philo- 


sopher's genius, and the inventions of all posterity 
have added nothing essential. 

Every nation is put to shame if one points out 
such a wonderfully idealised company of philoso- 
phers as that of the early Greek masters, Thales, 
Anaximander, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Anaxagoras, 
Empedocles, Democritus and Socrates. All those 
men areintegral, entire and self-contained,* and hewn 
out of one stone. Severe necessity exists between 
their thinking and their character. They are not 
bound by any convention, because at that time no 
professional class of philosophers and scholars ex- 
isted. They all stand before us in magnificent soli- 
tude as the only ones who then devoted their life 
exclusively to knowledge. They all possess the 
virtuous energy of the Ancients, whereby they excel 
all the later philosophers in finding their own form 
and in perfecting it by metamorphosis in its most 
minute details and general aspect. For they were 
met by no helpful and facilitating fashion. Thus 
together they form what Schopenhauer, in opposi- 
tion to the Republic of Scholars, has called a Re- 
public of Geniuses ; one giant calls to another across 
the arid intervals of ages, and, undisturbed by a 
wanton, noisy race of dwarfs, creeping about beneath 
them, the sublime intercourse of spirits continues. 

Of this sublime intercourse of spirits I have re- 
solved to relate those items which our modern hard- 
ness of hearing might perhaps hear and understand ; 
that means certainly the least of all. It seems to 

* Cf. Napoleon's word about Goethe : " Voila un homme ! " 
— Tr. 


me that those old sages from Thales to Socrates have 
discussed in that intercourse, although in its most 
general aspect, everything that constitutes for our 
contemplation the peculiarly Hellenic. In their 
intercourse, as already in their personalities, they 
express distinctly the great features of Greek genius 
of which the whole of Greek history is a shadowy 
impression, a hazy copy, which consequently speaks 
less clearly. If we could rightly interpret the total 
life of the Greek nation, we should ever find reflected 
only that picture which in her highest geniuses 
shines with more resplendent colours. Even the 
first experience of philosophy on Greek soil, the 
sanction of the Seven Sages is a distinct and un- 
forgettable line in the picture of the Hellenic. Other 
nations have their Saints, the Greeks have Sages. 
Rightly it has been said that a nation is characterised 
not only by her great men but rather by the manner in 
which she recognises and honours them. In other 
ages the philosopher is an accidental solitary wan- 
derer in the most hostile environment, either slinking 
through or pushing himself through with clenched 
fists. With the Greek however the philosopher is 
not accidental ; when in the Sixth and Fifth centuries 
amidst the most frightful dangers and seductions of 
secularisation he appears and as it were steps forth 
from the cav^ of Trophonios into the very midst of 
luxuriance, the discoverers' happiness, the wealth 
and the sensuousness of the Greek colonies, then we 
divine that he comes as a noble warner for the same 
purpose for which in those centuries Tragedy was 
born and which the Orphic mysteries in their 
grotesque hieroglyphics give us to understand. The 


opinion of those philosophers on Life and Existence 
altogether means so much more than a modern 
opinion because they had before themselves Life in 
a luxuriant perfection, and because with them, un- 
like us, the sense of the thinker was not muddled by 
the disunion engendered by the wish for freedom, 
beauty, fulness of life and the love for truth that 
only asks : What is the good of Life at all ? The 
-mission which the philosopher has to discharge with- 
in a real Culture, fashioned in a homogeneous style, 
cannot be clearly conjectured out of our circum- 
stances and experiences for the simple reason that 
we have no such culture. No, it is only a Culture 
like the Greek which can answer the question as to 
that task of the philosopher, only such a Culture can, 
as I said before, justify philosophy at all ; because 
such a Culture alone knows and can demonstrate 
why and how the philosopher is not an accidental, 
chance wanderer driven now hither, now thither. 
There is a steely necessity which fetters the philo- 
sopher to a true Culture : but what if this Culture 
does not exist ? Then the philosopher is an incal- 
culable and therefore terror-inspiring comet, whereas 
in the favourable case, he shines as the central star 
in the solar-system of culture. It is for this reason 
that the Greeks justify the philosopher, because with 
them he is no comet. 

After such contemplations it will be accepted with- 
out offence if I speak of the pre-Platonic philoso- 
phers as of a homogeneous company, and devote 
this paper to them exclusively. Something quite 


new begins with Plato ; or it might be said with 
equal justice that in comparison with that Republic 
of Geniuses from Thales to Socrates, the philoso- 
phers since Plato lack something essential. 

Whoever wants to express himself unfavourably 
about those older masters may call them one-sided, 
and their Epigones, with Plato as head, many-sided. 
Yet it would be more just and unbiassed to conceive 
of the latter as philosophic hybrid -characters, of the 
former as the pure types. Plato himself is the first 
magnificent hybrid-character, and as such finds ex- 
pression as well in his philosophy as in his personality. 
In his ideology are united Socratian, Pythagorean, 
and Heraclitean elements, and for this reason it is 
no typically pure phenomenon. As man, too, Plato 
mingles the features of the royally secluded, all- 
sufficing Heraclitus, of the melancholy-compassion- 
ate and legislatory Pythagoras and of the psycho- 
expert dialectician Socrates. All later philosophers 
are such hybrid-characters ; wherever something 
one-sided does come into prominence with them 
as in the case of the Cynics, it is not type but cari- 
cature. Much more important however is the fact 
that they are founders of sects and that the sects 
founded by them are all institutions in direct op- 
position to the Hellenic culture and the unity of its 
style prevailing up to that time. In their way they 
seek a redemption, but only for the individuals or at 
the best for groups of friends and disciples closely 
connected with them. The activity of the older 
philosophers tends, although they were unconscious 
of it, towards a cure and purification on a large 
scale ; the mighty course of Greek culture is not to 


be Stopped ; awful dangers are to be removed out 
of the way of its current ; the philosopher protects 
and defends his native country. Now, since Plato, 
he is in exile and conspires against his fatherland. 

It is a real misfortune that so very little of those 
older philosophic masters has come down to us and 
that all complete works of theirs are withheld from 
us. Involuntarily.on account of that loss, we measure 
them according to wrong standards and allow our- 
selves to be influenced unfavourably towards them 
by the mere accidental fact that Plato and .Aristotle 
never lacked appreciatorsand copyists. Some people 
presuppose a special providence for books, a fatuni 
libellorum; such a providence however would at any 
rate be a very malicious one if it deemed it wise to 
withhold from us the works of Heraclitus, Empe- 
docles' wonderful poem, and the writings of Demo- 
critus, whom the ancients put on a par with Plato, 
whom he even excels as far as ingenuity goes, and 
as a substitute put into our hand Stoics, Epicureans 
and Cicero. Probably the most sublime part of Greek 
thought and its expression in words is lost to us ; a 
fate which will not surprise the man who remembers 
the misfortunes of Scotus Erigena or of Pascal, and 
who considers that even in this enlightened century 
the" first edition of Schopenhauer's ''■The World As 
Will And Idea" became waste-paper. If somebody 
will presuppose a special fatalistic power with respect 
to such things he may do so and say with Goethe : 
" Let no one complain about and grumble at things 
vile and mean, they are the real rulers, — however 
much this be gainsaid !" In particular they are more 
powerful than the power of truth. Mankind very 


rarely produces a good book in which with daring 
freedom is intonated the battle-song of truth, the 
song of philosophic heroism ; and yet whether it is 
to live a century longer or to crumble and moulder 
into dust and ashes, depends on the most miserable 
accidents, on the sudden mental eclipse of men's 
heads, on superstitious convulsions and antipathies, 
finally on fingers not too fond of writing or even 
on eroding bookworms and rainy weather. But we 
will not lament but rather take the advice of the 
reproving and consolatory words which Hamann 
addresses to scholars who lament over lost works. 
" Would not the artist who succeeded in throwing a 
lentil through the eye of a needle have sufficient, with 
a bushel of lentils, to practise his acquired skill? One 
would like to put this question to all scholars who 
do not know how to use the works of the Ancients 
any better than that man used his lentils." It might 
be added in our case that not one more word, anec- 
dote, or date needed to be transmitted to us than 
has been transmitted, indeed that even much less 
might have been preserved for us and yet we should 
have been able to establish the general doctrine that 
the Greeks justify philosophy. 

A time which suffers from the so-called " general 
education" but has no culture and no unity of style 
in her life hardly knows what to do with philosophy, 
even if the latter were proclaimed by the very Genius 
of Truth in the streets and market-places. Sherather 
remains at such a time the learned monologue of the 
solitary rambler, the accidental booty of the indi- 
vidual, the hidden closet-secret or the innocuous 
chatter between academic senility and childhood. 


Nobody dare venture to fulfil in himself the law of 
philosophy, nobody lives philosophically, with that 
simple manly faith which compelled an Ancient, 
wherever he was, whatever he did, to deport him- 
self as a Stoic, when he had once pledged his faith 
to the Stoa. All modern philosophising is limited 
politically and regulated by the police to learned 
semblance. Thanks to governments, churches, aca- 
demies, customs, fashions, and the cowardice of man, 
it never gets beyond the sigh : " If only! . . ." or be- 
yond the knowledge : " Once upon a time there was 
. . ." Philosophy is without rights ; therefore modern 
man, if he were at all courageous and conscientious, 
ought to condemn her and perhaps banish her with 
words similar to those by which Plato banished 
the tragic poets from his State. Of course there 
would be left a reply for her, as there remained to 
those poets against Plato. If one once compelled 
her to speak out she might say perhaps: "Miserable 
Nation ! Is it my fault if among you I am on the 
tramp, like a fortune teller through the land, and 
must hide and disguise myself, as if I were a great 
sinner and ye my judges? Just look at my sister. 
Art! It is with her as with me ; we have been cast 
adrift among the Barbarians and no longer know 
how to save ourselves. Here we are lacking, it is 
true, every good right; but the judges before whom 
we find justice judge you also and will tell you: 
First acquire a culture; then you shall experience 
what Philosophy can and will do." — 


Greek philosophy seems to begin with a prepos- 
terous fancy, with the proposition that water is the 
origin and mother-womb of all things. Is it really 
necessary to stop there and become serious ? Yes, 
and for three reasons : Firstly, because the proposi- 
tion does enunciate something about the origin of 
things ; secondly, because it does so without figure 
and fable ; thirdly and lastly, because in it is con- 
tained, although only in the chrysalis state, the idea : 
Everything is one. The first mentioned reason leaves 
Thales still in the company of religious and super- 
stitious people, the second however takes him out 
of this company and shows him to us as a natural 
philosopher, but by virtue of the third, Thales be- 
comes the first Greek philosopher. If he had said: 
"Out of water earth is evolved," we should only have 
a scientific hypothesis ; a false one, though never- 
theless difficult to refute. But he went beyond the 
scientific. In his presentation of this concept of 
unity through the hypothesis of water, Thales has 
not surmounted the low level of the physical dis- 
cernments of his time, but at the best overleapt 
them. The deficient and unorganised observations 
of an empiric nature which Thales had made as to 
the occurrence and transformations of water, or to 
be more exact, of the Moist, would not in the least 
have made possible or even suggested such an im- 
mense generalisation. That which drove him to this 
generalisation was a metaphysical dogma, which had 
its origin in a mystic intuition and which together 
with the ever renewed endeavours to express it better, 


we find in all philosophies, — the proposition: Every- 
thing is one ! 

How despotically such a faith deals with all em- 
piricism is worthy of note ; with Thales especially 
one can learn how Philosophy has behaved at all 
times, when she wanted to get beyond the hedges 
of experience to her magically attracting goal. On 
light supports she leaps in advance ; hope and divina- 
tion wing her feet. Calculating reason too, clumsily 
pants after her and seeks better supports in its 
attempt to reach that alluring goal, at which its 
divine companion has already arrived. One sees in 
■imagination two wanderers by a wild forest-stream 
which carries with it rolling stones ; the one, light- 
footed, leaps over it using the stones and swinging 
himself upon them ever further and further, though 
they precipitously sink into the depths behind him. 
The other stands helpless there most of the time ; 
he has first to build a pathway which will bear his 
heavy, weary step ; sometimes that cannot be done 
and then no god will help him across the stream. 
What therefore carries philosophical thinking so 
quickly to its goal ? Does it distinguish itself from 
calculating and measuring thought only by its more 
rapid flight through large spaces ? No, for a strange 
illogical power wings the foot of philosophical think- 
ing ; and this power is Fancy. Lifted by the latter, 
oljilosophical thinking leaps from possibility to pos- 
'■^bility, and these for the time being are taken as 
certainties ; and now and then even whilst on the 
wing it gets hold of certainties. An ingenious pre- 
sentiment shows them to the flier ; demonstrable 
certainties are divined at ^ distance to be at this 


point. Especially powerful is the strength of Fancy 
in the lightning-like seizing and illuminating of simi- 
larities ; afterwards reflection applies its standards 
and models and seeks to substitute the similarities 
by equalities, that which was seen side by side by 
causalities. But though this should never be possible, 
even in the case of Thales the indemonstrable philo- 
sophising has yet its value ; although all supports are 
broken when Logic and the rigidity of Empiricism 
want to get across to the proposition : Everything is 
water ; yet still there is always, after the demolition 
of the scientific edifice, a remainder, and in this very 
remainder lies a moving force and as it were the 
hope of future fertility. 

Of course I do not mean that the thought in any 
restriction or attenuation, or as allegory, still retains 
some kind of " truth " ; as if, for instance, one might 
imagine the creating artist standing near a waterfall, 
and seeing in the forms which leap towards him, an 
artisticallyprefiguring game of thewater with human 
and animal bodies, masks, plants, rocks, nymphs, 
griffins, and with all existing types in general, so that 
to him the proposition : Everything is water, is con- 
firmed. The thought of Thales has rather its value 
— even after the perception of its indemonstrable- 
ness— in the very fact, that it was meant unmythi- 
cally and unallegorically. The Greeks among whom 
Thales became so suddenly conspicuous were the 
anti-type of all realists by only believing essentially 
in the reality of men and gods, and by contem- 
plating the whole of nature as if it were only a 
disguise, masquerade and metamorphosis of these 
god-men. Man was to them the truth, and essence 


of things ; everything else mere phenomenon and 
deceiving play. For that very reason they experi- 
enced incredible difficulty in conceiving of ideas as 
ideas. Whilst with the moderns the most personal 
item sublimates itself into abstractions, with them 
the most abstract notions became personified. Thales, 
however, said, " Not man but water is the reality of 
things " ; he began to believe in nature, in so far that 
he at least believed in water. As a mathematician 
and astronomer he had grown cold towards every- 
thing mythical and allegorical, and even if he did 
not succeed in becoming disillusioned as to the pure 
abstraction, Everything is one, and although he left 
off at a physical expression he was nevertheless 
among the Greeks of his time a surprising rarity. 
Perhaps the exceedingly conspicuous Orpheans pos- 
sessed in a still higher degree than he the faculty of 
conceiving abstractions and of thinking unplasti- 
cally ; only they did not succeed in expressing these 
abstractions except in the form of the allegory. Also 
Pherecydes of Syrus who is a contemporary of 
Thales and akin to him in many physical concep- 
tions hovers with the expression of the latter in that 
middle region where Allegory is wedded to Mythos, 
so that he dares, for example, to compare the earth 
with a winged oak, which hangs in the air with 
spread pinions and which Zeus bedecks, after the 
defeat of Kronos, with a magnificent robe of honour, 
into which with his own hands Zeus embroiders lands, 
water and rivers. In contrast with such gloomy alleg- 
orical philosophising scarcely to be translated into the 
realm of the comprehensible, Thales' are the works 
of a creative master who began to look into Nature's 


depths without fantastic fabling. If as it is true 
he used Science and the demonstrable but soon out- 
leapt them, then this likewise is a typical character- 
istic of the philosophical genius. The Greek word 
which designates the Sage belongs etymologically 
to sapio, I taste, sapiens, the tasting one, sisypkos, 
the man of the most delicate taste ; the peculiar 
art of the philosopher therefore consists, according 
to the opinion of the people, in a delicate selective 
judgment by taste, by discernment, by significant 
differentiation. He is not prudent, if one calls him 
prudent, who in his own affairs finds out the good ; 
Aristotle rightly says : " That which Thales and 
Anaxagoras know, people will call unusual, astound- 
ing,difificult,divine but — useless,since human posses- 
sions were of no concern to those two." Through thus 
selecting and precipitating the unusual, astounding, 
difficult, and divine. Philosophy marks the boundary- 
lines dividing her from Science in the same way as 
she does it from Prudence by the emphasising of the 
useless. Science without thus selecting, without such 
delicate taste, pounces upon everything knowable, 
in the blind covetousness to know all at any price ; 
philosophical thinking however is always on the 
track of the things worth knowing, on the track of 
the great and most important discernments. Now 
the idea of greatness is changeable, as well in the 
moral as in the esthetic realm, thus Philosophy 
begins with a legislation with respect to greatness, 
she becomes a Nomenclator. " That is great," 
she says, and therewith she raises man above 
the blind, untamed covetousness of his thirst for 
knowledge. By the idea of greatness she assuages 


this thirst : and it is chiefly by this, that she contem- 
plates the greatest discernment, that of the essence 
and kernel of things, as attainable and attained. 
When Thales says, " Everything is water," man is 
startled up out of his worm-like mauling of and 
crawling about among the individual sciences ; he 
divines the last solution of things and masters through 
this divination the common perplexity of the lower 
grades of knowledge. The philosopher tries to make 
the total-chord of the universe re-echo within him- 
self and then to project it into ideas outside himself: 
whilst he is contemplative like the creating artist, 
sympathetic like the religionist, looking out for ends 
and causalities like the scientific man, whilst he feels 
himself swell up to the macrocosm, he still retains 
the circumspection to contemplate himself coldly 
as the reflex of the world ; he retains that cool- 
headedness, which the dramatic artist possesses, 
when he transforms himself into other bodies, speaks 
out of them, and yet knows how to project this 
transformation outside himself into written verses. 
What the verse is to the poet, dialectic thinking is 
to the philosopher ; he snatches at it in order to hold 
fast his enchantment, in order to petrify it. And 
just as words and verse to the dramatist are only 
stammerings in a foreign language, to tell in it what 
he lived, what he saw, and what he can directly 
promulgate by gesture and music only, thus the 
expression of every deep philosophical intuition by 
means of dialectics and scientific reflection is, it is 
true, on the one hand the only means to communi- 
cate what has been seen, but on the other hand it is 
a paltry means, and at the bottom a metaphorical. 


absolutely inexact translation into a different sphere 
and language. Thus Thales saw the Unity of the 
" Existent," and when he wanted to communicate this 
idea he talked of water. 


Whilst the general type of the philosopher in the 
picture of Thales is set off rather hazily, the picture 
of his great successor already speaks much more 
distinctly to us. Anaximander of Milet, the first 
philosophical author of the Ancients, writes in the 
very way that the typical philosopher will always 
write as long as he is not alienated from ingenuous- 
ness and naivete by odd claims : in a grand lapi- 
darian style of writing, sentence for sentence ... a 
witness of a new inspiration, and an expression of 
the sojourning in sublime contemplations. The 
thought and its form are milestones on the path 
towards the highest wisdom. With such a lapi- 
darian emphasis Anaximander once said : " Whence 
things originated, thither, according to necessity, 
they must return and perish ; for they must pay pen- 
alty and be judged for their injustices according to 
the order of time." Enigmatical utterance of a true 
pessimist, oracular inscription on the boundary-stone 
of Greek philosophy, how shall we explain thee ? 

The only serious moralist of our century in the 
Parergis (Vol. ii., chap. 12, "Additional Remarks on 
The Doctrine about the Suffering in the World, 
Appendix of Corresponding Passages ") urges on us a 
similar contemplation : "The right standard by which 
to judge every human being is that he really is a 
being who ought not to exist at all, but who is ex- 


piating his existence by manifold forms of suffering 
and death: — What can oneexpect fromsuch abeing? 
Are we not all sinners condemned to death ? We 
expiate our birth firstly by our life and secondly 
by our death." He who in the physiognomy of 
our universal human lot reads this doctrine and 
already recognises the fundamental bad quality of 
every human life, in the fact that none can stand 
a very close and careful contemplation — although 
our time, accustomed to the biographical epidemic, 
seems to think otherwise and more loftily about the 
dignity of man ; he who, like Schopenhauer, on "the 
heights of the Indian breezes " has heard the sacred 
word about the moral value of existence, will be kept 
with difficulty from making an extremely anthropo- 
morphic metaphor and from generalizing that mel- 
ancholy doctrine — at first only limited to human 
life — and applying it by transmission to the general 
character of all existence. It may not be very logical, 
it is however at any rate very human and moreover 
quite in harmony with the philosophical leaping de- 
scribed above, now with Anaximander to consider 
all Becoming as a punishable emancipation from 
eternal " Being," as a wrong that is to be atoned for 
by destruction. Everything that has once come into 
existence also perishes, whether we think of human 
life or of water or of heat and cold ; everywhere 
where definite qualities are to be noticed, we are 
allowed to prophesy the extinction of these qualities 
— according to the all-embracing proof of experience. 
Thus a being that possesses definite qualities and 
consists of them, can never be the origin and prin- 
ciple of things ; the veritable ens, the " Existent," An- 


aximander concluded, cannot possess any definite 
qualities, otherwise, like all other things, it would 
necessarily have originated and perished. In order 
that Becoming may not cease, the Primordial-being 
must be indefinite. The immortality and eternity 
of the Primordial-being lies not in an infiniteness 
and inexhaustibility — as usually the expounders of 
Anaximander presuppose — but in this, that it lacks 
the definite qualities which lead to destruction, for 
which reason it bears also its name : The Indefinite. 
The thus labelled Primordial-being is superior to all 
Becoming and for this very reason it guarantees the 
eternity and unimpeded course of Becoming. This 
last unity in that Indefinite, the mother-womb of all 
things, can, it is true, be designated only negatively 
by man, as something to which no predicate out of 
the existing world of Becoming can be allotted, and 
might be considered a peer to the Kantian " Thing- 

Of course he who is able to wrangle persistently 
with others as to what kind of thing that primordial 
substance really was, whether perhaps an intermedi- 
ate thing between air and water, or perhaps between 
air and fire, has not understood our philosopher at all; 
this is likewise to be said about those, who seriously 
ask themselves, whether Anaximander had thought 
of his primordial substance as a mixture of all exist- 
ing substances. Rather we must direct our gaze to 
the place where we can learn that Anaximander no 
longer treated the question of the origin of the world 
as purely physical ; we must direct our gaze towards 
that first stated lapidarian proposition. When on 
the contrary he saw a sum of wrongs to be expiated 


in the plurality of things that have become, then 
he, as the first Greek, with daring grasp caught 
up the tangle of the most profound ethical problem. 
How can anything perish that has a right to exist ?''^ 
Whence that restless Becoming and giving-birth, 
whence that expression of painful distortion on the 
face of Nature, whence the never-ending dirge in all 
realms of existence ? Out of this world of injustice, 
of audacious apostasy from the primordial-unity of 
things Anaximander flees into a metaphysical castle, 
leaning out of which he turns his gaze far and wide 
in order at last, after a pensive silence, to address to 
all beings this question : " What is your existence 
worth? And if it is worth nothing why are you 
there ? By your guilt, I observe, you sojourn in this 
world. You will have to expiate it by death. Look 
how your earth fades ; the seas decrease and dry up, 
the marine-shell on the mountain shows you how 
much already they have dried up ; fire destroys your 
world even now, finally it will end in smoke and 
ashes. But again and again such a world of transi- 
toriness will ever build itself up ; who shall redeem 
you from the curse of Becoming ? " 

Not every kind of life may have been welcome to 
a man who put such questions, whose upward-soar- 
ing thinking continually broke the empiric ropes, 
in order to take at once to the highest, superlunary 
flight. Willingly we believe tradition, that he walked 
along in especially dignified attire and showed a 
truly tragic hauteur in his gestures and habits of 
life. He lived as he wrote ; he spoke as solemnly as 
he dressed himself, he raised his hand and placed 
his foot as if this existence was a tragedy, and he 


had been born in order to co-operate in that tragedy 
by playing the role of hero. In all that he was the 
great model of Empedocles. His fellow-citizens 
elected him the leader of an emigrating colony — 
perhaps they were pleased at being able to honour 
him and at the same time to get rid of him. His 
thought also emigrated and founded colonies ; in 
Ephesus and in Elea they could not get rid of him ; 
and if they could not resolve upon staying at the spot 
where he stood, they nevertheless knew that they 
had been led there by him, whence they now pre- 
pared to proceed without him. 
f-'jrhales shows the need of simplifying the empire 
of plurality, and of reducing it to a mere expansion 
or disguise of the one single existing quality, water. 
Anaximander goes beyond him with two steps. 
Firstly he puts the question to himself: How, if 
there exists an eternal Unity at all, is that Plurality 
possible ? and he takes the answer out of the con- 
tradictory, self-devouring and denying character of 
this Plurality. The existence of this Plurality be- 
comes a moral phenomenon to him ; it is not justi- 
fied, it expiates itself continually through destruc- 
tion. But then the questions occur to him : Yet why 
has not everything that has become perished long 
ago, since, indeed, quite an eternity of time has 
already gone by ? Whence the ceaseless current of 
the River of Becoming ? He can save himself from 
these questions only by mystic possibilities : the 
eternal Becoming can have its origin only in the 
eternal " Being," the conditions for that apostasy from 
that eternal "Being" to a Becoming in injustice are 
ever the same, the constellation of things cannot 


help itself being thus fashioned, that no end is to be 
seen of that stepping forth of the individual being 
out of the lap of the " Indefinite." At this Anaxi- 
mander stayed ; that is, he remained within the deep 
shadows which like gigantic spectres were lying on 
the mountain range of such a world-perception. The 
more one wanted to approach the problem of solving 
how out of the Indefinite the Definite, out of the 
Eternal the Temporal, out of the Just the Unjust 
could by secession ever originate, the darker the 

night became. 

Towards the midst of this mystic night, in which 
Anaximander's problem of the Becoming was 
wrapped up, Heraclitus of Ephesus approached and 
illuminated it by a divine flash of lightning. " I contem- 
plate the Becoming," he exclaimed, — " and nobody 
has so attentively watched this eternal wave-surging 
and rhythm of things. And what do I behold ? Law- 
fulness, infallible certainty, ever equal paths of Jus- 
tice, condemning Erinyes behind all transgressions of 
the laws, the whole world the spectacle of a govern- 
ing justice and of demoniacally omnipresent natural 
forces subject to justice's sway. I do not behold the 
punishment of that which has become, but the justi- 
fication of Becoming. When has sacrilege, when 
has apostasy manifested itself in inviolable forms, 
in laws esteemed sacred? Where injustice sways, 
there is caprice, disorder, irregularity, contradiction ; 
where however Law and Zeus' daughter, Dike, rule 
alone, as in this world, how could the sphere of guilt, 
of expiation, of judgment, and as it were the place 
of execution of all condemned ones be there ? " 


From this intuition Heraclitus took two coherent 
negations, which are put into the right light only 
by a comparison with the propositions of his prede- 
cessor. Firstly, he denied the duality of two quite 
diverse worlds, into the assumption of which Anaxi- 
mander had been pushed ; he no longer distinguished 
a physical world from a metaphysical, a realm of 
definite qualities from a realm of indefinable inde- 
finiteness. Now after this first step he. could neither 
be kept back any longer from a still greater audacity 
of denying : he denied " Being " altogether. For 
this one world which was left to him, — shielded all 
round by eternal, unwritten laws, flowing up and 
down in the brazen beat of rhythm, — shows nowhere 
persistence, indestructibility, a bulwark in the stream. 
Louder than Anaximander, Heraclitus exclaimed : 
" I see nothing but Becoming. Be not deceived ! 
It is the fault of your limited outlook and not the 
fault of the essence of things if you believe that 
you see firm land anywhere in the ocean of Becom- 
ing and Passing. You need names for things, just 
as if they had a rigid permanence, but the very river 
in which you bathe a second time is no longer the 
same one which you entered before." 

Heraclitus has as his royal property the highest 
power of intuitive conception, whereas towards the 
other mode of conception which is consummated 
by ideas and logical combinations, that is towards 
reason, he shows himself cool, apathetic, even hos- 
tile, and he seems to derive a pleasure when he is 
able to contradict reason by means of a truth gained 
intuitively, and this he does in such propositions as: 
" Everything has always its opposite within itself," 


SO fearlessly that Aristotle before the tribunal of 
Reason accuses him of the highest crime, of having 
sinned against the law of opposition. Intuitive repre- 
sentation however embraces two things : firstly, the 
present, motley, changing world, pressing on us in 
all experiences, secondly, the conditions by means 
of which alone any experience of this world becomes 
possible : time and space. For these are able to be i 
intuitively apprehended, purely in themselves and 
independent of any experience ; i.e., they can be 
perceived, although they are without definite con- 
tents. If now Heraclitus considered time in this 
fashion, dissociated from all experiences, he had in 
it the most instructive monogram of all that which 
falls within the realm of intuitive conception. Just 
as he conceived of time, so also for instance did 
Schopenhauer, who repeatedly says of it : that in it 
every instant exists only in so far as it has anni- 
hilated the preceding one, its father, in order to be 
itself effaced equally quickly ; that past and future 
are as unreal as any dream ; that the present is only 
the dimensionless and unstable boundary between 
the two ; that however, like time, so space, and again 
like the latter, so also everything that is simultan- 
eously in space and time, has only a relative exist- 
ence, only through and for the sake of a something 
else, of the same kind as itself, i.e., existing only 
under the same limitations. This truth is in the 
highest degree self-evident, accessible to everyone, 
and just for that very reason, abstractly and ration- 
ally, it is only attained with great difficulty. Who- 
ever has this truth before his eyes must however also 
proceed at once to the next Heraclitean consequence 


and say that the whole essence of actuality is in fact 
activity, and that for actuality there is no other kind 
of existence and reality, as Schopenhauer has like- 
wise expounded ( " The World As Will And Idea," 
Vol. I., Bk. I, sec. 4): "Only as active does it fill 
space and time : its action upon the immediate object 
determines the perception in which alone it exists : 
the effect of the action of any material object upon 
any other, is known only in so far as the latter acts 
upon the immediate object in a different way from 
that in which it acted before; it consists in this alone. 
Cause and effect thus constitute the whole nature of 
matter ; its true being is its action. The totality 
of everything material is therefore very appropri- 
ately called in German Wirklichkeit (actuality) — 
a word which is far more expressive than Realitdt 
(reality).* That upon which actuality acts is always 
matter; actuality's whole ' Being ' and essence there- 
fore consist only in the orderly change, which one 
part of it causes in another, and is therefore wholly 
relative, according to a relation which is valid only 
within the boundary of actuality, as in the case of 
time and space.'' 

The eternal and exclusive Becoming, the total in- 
stability of all reality and actuality, which continu- 
ally works and becomes and never is, as Heraclitus 
teaches — is an awful and appalling conception, and 
in its effects most nearly related to that sensation, by 
which during an earthquake one loses confidence in 
the firmly-grounded earth. It required anastonishing 

* Mira in quibusdam rebus verborum proprietas est, et 
consuetude sermonis antiqui quaedam efficacissimis notis 
signat (Seneca, Epist. 81). — Tr. 


strength to translate this effect into its opposite, into 
the sublime, into happy astonishment. Heraclitus 
accomplished this through an observation of the 
proper course of all Becoming and Passing, which 
he conceived of under the form of polarity, as the 
divergence of a force into two qualitatively different, 
opposite actions, striving after reunion. A quality 
is set continually at variance with itself and separ- 
ates itself into its opposites : these opposites con- 
tinually strive again one towards another. The 
common people of course think to recognise some- 
thing rigid, completed, consistent ; but the fact of 
the matter is that at any instant, bright and dark, 
sour and sweet are side by side and attached to one 
another like two wrestlers of whom sometimes the 
one succeeds, sometimes the other. According to 
Heraclitus honey is at the same time sweet and 
bitter, and the world itself an amphora whose 
contents constantly need stirring up. Out of the 
war of the opposites all Becoming originates ; the 
definite and to us seemingly persistent qualities 
express only the momentary predominance of the 
one fighter, but with that the war is not at an end ; 
the wrestling continues to all eternity. Everything 
happens according to this struggle, and this very 
struggle manifests eternal justice. It is a wonder- 
ful conception, drawn from the purest source of 
Hellenism, which considers the struggle as the con- 
tinual sway of a homogeneous, severe justice bound 
by eternal laws. Only a Greek was able to consider 
this conception as the fundament of a Cosmodicy ; it 
is Hesiod's good Eris transfigured into the cosmic 
principle, it is the idea of a contest, an idea held by 


individual Greeks and by their State, and translated 
out of the gymnasia and palaestra, out of the artistic 
agonistics, out of the struggle of the political parties 
and of the towns into the most general principle, so 
that the machinery of the universe is regulated by 
it. Just as every Greek fought as though he alone 
were in the right, and as though an absolutely 
sure standard of judicial opinion could at any in- 
stant decide whither victory is inclining, thus the 
qualities wrestle one with another, according to in- 
violable laws and standards which are inherent in 
the struggle. The Things themselves in the per- 
manency of which the limited intellect of man and 
animal believes, do not "exist" at all ; they are as the 
fierce flashing and fiery sparkling of drawn swords, 
as the stars of Victory rising with a radiant re- 
splendence in the battle of the opposite qualities. 

That struggle which is peculiar to all Becoming, 
that eternal interchange of victory is again described 
by Schopenhauer : (" The World As Will And Idea," 
Vol. i., Bk. 2, sec. 27) " The permanent matter must 
constantly change its form ; for under the guid- 
ance of causality, mechanical, physical, chemical, 
and organic phenomena, eagerly striving to appear, 
wrest the matter from each other, for each desires 
to reveal its own Idea. This strife may be followed 
up through the whole of nature ; indeed nature 
exists only through it." The following pages give 
the most noteworthy illustrations of this struggle, 
only that the prevailing tone of this description ever 
remains other than that of Heraclitus in so far as 
to Schopenhauer the struggle is a proof of the Will 
to Life falling out with itself; it is to him a feasting 


on itself on the part of this dismal, dull impulse, as 
a phenomenon on the whole horrible and not at all 
making for happiness. The arena and the object 
of this struggle is Matter, — whichsome natural forces 
alternately endeavour to disintegrate and build up 
again at the expense of other natural forces, — as 
also Space and Time, the union of which through 
causality is this very matter. 

Whilst the imagination of Heraclitus measured the 
restlessly moving universe, the " actuality " ( Wirk- 
lichkeif), with the eye of the happy spectator, who 
sees innumerable pairs wrestling in joyous combat 
entrusted to the superintendence of severe umpires, 
a still higher presentiment seized him, he no longer 
could contemplate the wrestling pairs and the um- 
pires, separated one from another ; the very umpires 
seemed to fight, and the fighters seemed to be their 
own judges — yea, since at the bottom he conceived 
only of the one Justice eternally swaying, he dared 
to exclaim : "The contest of The Many is itself pure 
justice. And after all: The One is The Many. For 
what are all those qualities according to their nature? 
Are they immortal gods ? Are they separate beings 
working for themselves from the beginning and with- 
out end? And if the world which we see knows 
only Becoming and Passing but no Permanence, 
should perhaps those qualities constitute a differently 
fashioned metaphysical world, true, not a world of 
unity as Anaximander sought behind the fluttering 
veil of plurality, but a world of eternal and essential 
pluralities ? " Is it possible that however violently 


he had denied such duality, Heraclitus has after all 
by a round-about way accidentally got into the dual 
cosmic order, an order with an Olympus of numerous 
immortal gods and demons, — viz., many realities, — 
and with a human world, which sees only the dust- 
cloud of the Olympic struggle and the flashing of 
divine spears, — i.e., only a Becoming? Anaximander 
had fled just from these definite qualities into the 
lap of the metaphysical " Indefinite" ; because the 
former became and passed, he had denied them a 
true and essential existence ; however should it not 
seem now as if the Becoming is only the looming- 
into-view of a struggle of eternal qualities ? When 
we speak of the Becoming, should not the original 
cause of this be sought in the peculiar feebleness of 
human cognition — whereas in the nature of things 
there is perhaps no Becoming, but only a co-existing 
of many true increate indestructible realities ? 

These are Heraclitean loop-holes and labyrinths ; 
he exclaims once again : " The 'One' is the 'Many'." 
The many perceptible qualities are neither eternal 
entities, nor phantasmata of our senses (Anaxagoras 
conceives them later on as the former, Parmenides 
as the latter), they are neither rigid, sovereign "Being" 
nor fleeting Appearance hovering in human minds. 
The third possibility which alone was left to Hera- 
clitus nobody will be able to divine with dialectic 
sagacity and as it were by calculation, for what he 
invented here is a rarity even in the realm of mystic 
incredibilities and unexpected cosmic metaphors. — 
The world is the Game of Zeus, or expressed more 
physically, the game of fire with itself, the " One " 
is only in this sense at the same time the " Many." — ■ 


In order to elucidate in the first place the intro- 
duction of fire as a world-shaping force, I recall 
how Anaximander had further developed the theory 
of water as the origin of things. Placing confi- 
dence in the essential part of Thales' theory, and 
strengthening and adding to the latter's observa- 
tions, Anaximander however was not to be con- 
vinced that before the water and, as it were, after 
the water there was no further stage of quality : no, 
to him out of the Warm and the Cold the Moist 
seemed to form itself, and the Warm and the Cold 
therefore were supposed to be the preliminary 
stages, the still more original qualities. With their 
issuing forth from the primordial existence of the 
" Indefinite," Becoming begins. Heraclitus who as 
physicist subordinated himself to the importance 
of Anaximander, explains to himself this Anaxi- 
mandrian " Warm " as the respiration, the warm 
breath, the dry vapours, in short as the fiery element : 
about this fire he now enunciates the same as Thales 
and Anaximander had enunciated about the water : 
that in innumerable metamorphoses it was passing 
along the path of Becoming, especially in the three 
chief aggregate stages as something Warm, Moist, 
and Firm. For water in descending is transformed 
into earth, in ascending into fire: or as Heraclitus 
appears to have expressed himself more exactly : 
from the sea ascend only the pure vapours which 
serve as food to the divine fire of the stars, from 
the earth only the dark, foggy ones, from which 
the Moist derives its nourishment. The pure 
vapours are the transitional stage in the passing 
of sea into fire, the impure the transitional stage 


in the passing of earth into water. Thus the 
two paths of metamorphosis of the fire run con- 
tinuously side by side, upwards and downwards, to 
and fro, from fire to water, from water to earth, 
from earth back again to water, from water to fire. 
Whereas Heraclitus is a follower of Anaximander 
in the most important of these conceptions, e.g., 
that the fire is kept up by the evaporations, or here- 
in, that out of the water is dissolved partly earth, 
partly fire ; he is on the other hand quite inde- 
pendent and in opposition to Anaximander in 
excluding the " Cold " from the physical process, 
whilst Anaximander had put it side by side with 
the " Warm " as having the same rights, so as to let 
the " Moist '' originate out of both. To do so,'was 
of course a necessity to Heraclitus, for if everything 
is to be fire, then, however many possibilities of its 
transformation might be assumed, nothing can exist 
that would be the absolute antithesis to fire ; he has, 
therefore, probably interpreted only as a degree of 
the " Warm" that which is called the " Cold," and he 
could justify this interpretation without difficulty. 
Much more important than this deviation from the 
doctrine of Anaximander is a further agreement ; 
he, like the latter, believes in an end of the world 
periodically repeating itself and in an ever-renewed 
emerging of another world out of the all-destroying 
world-fire. The period during which the world 
hastens towards that world-fire and the dissolution 
into pure fire is characterised by him most strikingly 
as a demand and a need ; the state of being com- 
pletely swallowed up by the fire as satiety ; and 
now to us remains the question as to how he under- 


stood and named the newly awakening impulse for 
world-creation, the pouring-out-of-itself into the 
forms of plurality. The Greek proverb seems to come 
to our assistance with the thought that "satiety gives 
birth to crime" (the Hybris) and one may indeed ask 
oneself for a minute whether perhaps Heraclitus has 
derived that return to plurality out of the Hybris. 
Let us just take this thought seriously : in its light the 
face of Heraclitus changes before our eyes, the proud 
gleam of his eyes dies out, a wrinkled expression of 
painful resignation, of impotence becomes distinct, it 
seems that we know why later antiquity called him 
the "weeping philosopher." Is not the whole world- 
process now an act of punishment of the Hybris ? 
The plurality the result of a crime? The transforma- 
tion of the pure into the impure, the consequence of 
injustice.'' Isnot the guilt nowshiftedintothe essence 
of the things and indeed, the world of Becoming and 
of individuals accordingly exonerated from guilt ; 
yet at the same time are they not condemned for 
ever and ever to bear the consequences of guilt ? 


That dangerous word, Hybris, is indeed the touch- 
stone for every Heraclitean ; here he may show 
whether he has understood or mistaken his master. 
Is there in this world : Guilt, injustice, contradiction, 

Yes, exclaims Heraclitus, but only for the limited 
human being, who sees divergently and not con- 
vergently, not for the contuitive god ; to him every- 
thing opposing converges into one harmony, invisible 
it is true to the common human eye, yet compre- 


hensible to him who like Heraclitus resembles the 
contemplative god. Before his fiery eye no drop of 
injustice is left in the world poured out around him, 
and even that cardinal obstacle — how pure fire can 
take up its quarters in forms so impure — he masters 
by means of a sublime simile. A Becoming and 
Passing, a building and destroying, without any 
moral bias, in perpetual innocence is in this world 
only the play of the artist and of the child. And 
similarly, just as the child and the artist play, the 
eternally living fire plays, builds up and destroys, in 
innocence — and this game the ^on plays with him- 
self. Transforming himself into water and earth, 
like a child he piles heaps of sand by the sea, piles 
up and demolishes ; from time to time he recom- 
mences the game. A moment of satiety, then again 
desire seizes him, as desire compels the artist to 
create. Not wantonness, but the ever newly awaken- 
ing impulse to play, calls into life other worlds. The 
child throws away his toys ; but soon he starts again 
in an innocent frame of mind. As soon however as 
the child builds he connects, joins and forms law- 
fully and according to an innate sense of order. 

Thus only is the world contemplated by the 
aesthetic man, who has learned from the artist and 
the genesis of the latter's work, how the struggle of 
plurality can yet bear within itself law and justice, 
how the artist stands contemplative above, and 
working within the work of art, how necessity and 
play, antagonism and harmony must pair themselves 
for the procreation of the work of art. 

Who now will still demand from such a philosophy 
a system of Ethics with the necessary imperatives 


— Thou Shalt, — or even reproach Heraclitus with 
such a deficiency. Man down to his last fibre is 
Necessity and absolutely " unfi-ee " — if by freedom 
one understands the foolish claim to be able to 
change at will one's essentia like a garment, a claim, 
which up to the present every serious philosophy 
has rejected with due scorn. That so few human 
beings live with consciousness in the Logos and in 
accordance with the all-overlooking artist's eye 
originates from their souls being wet and from the 
fact that men's eyes and ears, their intellect in general 
is a bad witness when " moist ooze fills their souls." 
Why that is so, is not questioned any more than 
why fire becomes water and earth. Heraclitus is 
not compelled to prove (as Leibnitz was) that this 
world was even the best of all ; it was sufficient for 
him that the world is the beautiful, innocent play of 
the .(Eon. Man on the whole is to him even an 
irrational being, with which the fact that in all his 
essence the law of all-ruling reason is fulfilled does 
not clash. He does not occupy a specially favoured 
position in nature, whose highest phenomenon is 
not simple-minded man, but fire, for instance, as 
stars. In so far as man has through necessity re- 
ceived a share of fire, he is a little more rational ; 
as far as he consists of earth and water it stands 
badly with his reason. He is not compelled to take 
cognisance of the Logos simply because he is a 
human being. Why is there water, why earth? 
This to Heraclitus is a much more serious problem 
than to ask, why men are so stupid and bad. In 
the highest and the most perverted men the same 
inherent lawfulness and justice manifest themselves. 


If however one would ask HeracHtus the question 
" Why is fire not always fire, why is it now water, 
now earth ? " then he would only just answer : " It 
is a game, don't take it too pathetically and still less, 
morally." Heraclitus describes only the existing 
world and has the same contemplative pleasure in 
it which the artist experiences when looking at his 
growing work. Only those who have cause to be 
discontented with his natural history of man find 
him gloomy, melancholy, tearful, sombre, atrabil- 
arious, pessimistic and altogether hateful. He how- 
ever would take these discontented people, together 
with their antipathies and sympathies, their hatred 
and their love, as negligible and perhaps answer 
them with some such comment as : " Dogs bark at 
anything they do not know," or, " To the ass chaff 
is preferable to gold." 

With such discontented persons also originate 
the numerous complaints as to the obscurity of the 
Heraclitean style ; probably no man has ever 
written clearer and more illuminatingly; of course, 
very abruptly, and therefore naturally obscure to the 
racing readers. But why a philosopher should in- 
tentionally write obscurely — a thing habitually said 
about Heraclitus — is absolutely inexplicable; unless 
he has some cause to hide his thoughts or is suffici- 
ently a rogue to conceal his thoughtlessness under- 
neath words. One is, as Schopenhauer says, indeed 
compelled by lucid expression to prevent misunder- 
standings even in affairs of practical every-day life, 
how then should one be allowed to express oneself 
indistinctly, indeed puzzlingly in the most difficult, 
most abstruse, scarcely attainable object of thinking. 


the tasks of philosophy ? With respect to brevity 
however Jean Paul gives a good precept: "On the 
whole it is right that everything great — of deep 
meaning to a rare mind — should be uttered with 
brevity and (therefore) obscurely so that the paltry 
mind would rather proclaim it to be nonsense than 
translate it into the realm of his empty-headedness. 
For common minds have an ugly ability to perceive 
in the deepest and richest saying nothing but their 
own every-day opinion." Moreover and in spite of 
it Heraclitus has not escaped the "paltry minds"; 
already the Stoics have " re-expounded" him into the 
shallow and dragged down his aesthetic fundamental- 
perception as to the play of the world to the miser- 
able level of the common regard for the practical 
ends of the world and more explicitly for the advan- 
tages of man, so that out of his Physics has arisen 
in those heads a crude optimism, with the continual 
invitation to Dick, Tom, and Harry, " Plaudite 
amid ! " 


Heraclitus was proud ; and if it comes to pride 
with a philosopher then it is a great pride. - His work 
never refers him to a " public," the applause of the 
masses and the hailing chorus of contemporaries. 
To wander lonely alonghis path belongstothenature 
of the philosopher. His talents are the most rare, in 
a certain sense the most unnatural and at the same 
time exclusive and hostile even toward kindred 
talents. The wall of his self-sufiSciency must be of 
diamond, if it is not to be demolished and broken, 
for everything is in motion against him. His journey 
to immortality is more cumbersome and impeded 


than any other and yet nobody can believe more 
firmly than the philosopher that he will attain the 
goal by that journey — because he does not know 
where he is to stand if not on the widely spread wings 
of all time ; for the disregard of everything present 
and momentary lies in the essence of the great philo- 
sophic nature. He has truth ; the wheel of time 
may roll whither it pleases, never can it escape from 
truth. It is important to hear that such men have 
lived. Never for example would one be able to 
imagine the pride of Heraclitus as an idle possibility. 
In itself every endeavour after knowledge seems by 
its nature to be eternally unsatisfied and unsatis- 
factory. Therefore nobody unless instructed by 
history will like to believe in such a royal self- 
esteem and conviction of being the only wooer of 
truth. Such men live in their own solar-system — 
one has to look for them there. A Pythagoras, an 
Empedocles treated themselves too with a super- 
human esteem, yea, with almost religious awe ; but 
the tie of sympathy united with the great conviction 
of the metempsychosis and the unity of everything 
living, led them back to other men, for their welfare 
and salvation. Of that feeling of solitude, however, 
which permeated the Ephesian recluse of the Artemis 
Temple, one can only divine something, when grow- 
ing benumbed in the wildest mountain desert. No 
paramount feeling of compassionate agitation, no 
desire to help, heal and save emanates from him. 
He is a star without an atmosphere. His eye, 
"directed blazingly inwards, looks outward, for ap- 
pearance's sake only, extinct and icy. All around 
him, immediately upon the citadel of his pride beat 


the waves of folly and perversity : with loathing he 
turns away from them. But men with a feeling 
heart would also shun such a Gorgon monster as cast 
out of brass ; within an out-of-the-way sanctuary, 
among the statues of gods, by the side of cold com- 
posedly-sublime architecture such a being may ap- 
pear more comprehensible. As man among men 
Heraclitus was incredible ; and though he was seen 
paying attention to the play of noisy children, even 
then he was reflecting upon what never man thought 
of on such an occasion : the play of the great world- 
child, Zeus. He had no need of men, not even for 
his discernments. He was not interested in all that 
which one might perhaps ascertain from them, and 
in what the other sages before him had been en- 
deavouring to ascertain. He spoke with disdain of 
such questioning, collecting, in short "historic" men. 
" I sought and investigated myself," he said, with a 
word by which one designates the investigation of 
an oracle ; as if he and no one else were the true 
fulfiller and achiever of the Delphic precept: "Know 

What he learned from this oracle, he deemed 
immortal wisdom, and eternally worthy of explana- 
tion, of unlimited effect even in the distance, after 
the model of the prophetic speeches of the Sibyl. 
It is sufficient for the latest mankind : let the latter 
have that expounded to her, as oracular sayings, 
which he like the Delphic god " neither enunciates 
nor conceals." Although it is proclaimed by him, 
" without smiles, finery and the scent of ointments," 
but rather as with " foaming mouth," it must force 
its way through the millenniums of the future. For 


the world needs truth eternally, therefore she needs 
also Heraclitus eternally ; although he has no need 
of her. What does his fame matter to him ? — fame 
with " mortals ever flowing on ! " as he exclaims 
scornfully. His fame is of concern to man, not to 
himself; the immortality of mankind needs him, not 
he the immortality of the man Heraclitus. That 
which he beheld, the doctrine of the Law in the Be- 
coming, and of the Play in the Necessity, must hence- 
forth be beheld eternally ; he has raised the curtain 
of this greatest stage-play. 


Whereas in every word of Heraclitusareexpressed 
the pride and the majesty of truth, but of truth 
caught by intuitions, not scaled by the rope-ladder 
of Logic, whereas in sublime ecstasy he beholds but 
does not espy, discerns but does not reckon, he is 
contrasted with his contemporary Parmenides, a 
man likewise with the type of a prophet of truth, 
but formed as it were out of ice and not out of fire, 
and shedding around himself cold, piercing light. 

Parmenides once had, probably in his later years, 
a moment of the very purest abstraction, undimmed 
by any reality, perfectly lifeless ; this moment — un- 
Greek, like no other in the two centuries of the 
Tragic Age — the product of which is the doctrine of 
" Being," became a boundary-stone for his own life, 
which divided it into two periods ; at the same time 
however the same moment divides the pre-Socratic 
thinking into two halves, of which the first might be 
called the Anaximandrian, the second the Parmen- 
idean. The first period in Parmenides' own philoso- 


phising bears still the signature of Anaximander ; 
this period produced a detailed philosophic-physical 
system asanswerto Anaximander'squestions. When 
later that icy abstraction-horror caught him, and the 
simplest proposition treating of " Being " and " Not- 
Being " was advanced by him, then among the many 
older doctrines thrown by him upon the scrap heap 
was also his own system. However he does not 
appear to have lost all paternal piety towards the 
strong and well-shapen child of his youth, and he 
saved himself therefore by saying : " It is true there 
is only one right way ; if one however wants at any 
time to betake oneself to another, then my earlier 
opinion according to its purity and consequence 
alone is right." Sheltering himself with this phrase 
he has allowed his former physical system a worthy 
and extensive space in his great poem on Nature, 
which really was to proclaim the new discernment as 
the only signpost to truth. This fatherly regard, 
even though an error should have crept in through 
it, is a remainder of human feeling, in a nature quite 
petrified by logical rigidity and almost changed into 
a thinking-machine. 

Parmenides, whose personal intercourse with An- 
aximander does not seem incredible to me, and 
whose starting from Anaximander's doctrine is not 
only credible but evident, had the same distrust for 
the complete separation of a world which only is, 
and a world which only becomes, as had also caught 
Heraclitus and led to a denying of " Being " alto- 
gether. Both sought a way out from that contrast 
and divergence of a dual order of the world. That 
leap into the Indefinite, Indefinable, by which once 


for all Anaximander had escaped from the realm of 
Becoming and from the empirically given qualities 
of such realm, that leap did not become an easy 
matter to minds so independently fashioned as those 
of Heraclitus and Parmenides ; first they endea- 
voured to walk as far as they could and reserved 
to themselves the leap for that place, where the 
foot finds no more hold and one has to leap, in 
order not to fall. Both looked repeatedly at that 
very world, which Anaximander had condemned in 
so melancholy a way and declared to be the place 
of wanton crime and at the same time the peni- 
tentiary cell for the injustice of Becoming. Contem- 
plating this world Heraclitus, as we know already, 
had discovered what a wonderful order, regularity 
and security manifest themselves in every Becom- 
ing ; from that he concluded that the Becoming 
could not be anything evil and unjust. Quite a 
different outlook had Parmenides ; he compared 
the qualities one with another, and believed that 
they were not all of the same kind, but ought to be 
classified under two headings. If for example he 
compared bright and dark, then the second quality 
was obviously only the negation of the first ; and 
thus he distinguished positive and negative qualities, 
seriously endeavouring to rediscover and register that 
fundamental antithesis in the whole realm of Nature. 
His method was the following : He took a few anti- 
theses, e.g., light and heavy, rare and dense, active 
and passive, and compared them with that typical 
antithesis of bright and dark : that which corre- 
sponded with the bright was the positive, that which 
corresponded with the dark the negative quality. If 


he took perhaps the heavy and light, the light fell 
to the side of the bright, the heavy to the side of 
the dark ; and thus " heavy " was to him only the 
negation of "light," but the "light" a positive quality. 
This method alone shows that he had a defiant apti- 
tude for abstract logical procedure, closed against 
the suggestions of the senses. The " heavy " seems 
indeed to offer itself very forcibly to the senses as 
a positive quality ; that did not keep Parmenides 
from stamping it as a negation. Similarly he placed 
the earth in opposition to the fire, the " cold " in 
opposition to the "warm," the "dense" in opposi- 
tion to the " rare," the " female" in opposition to the 
" male," the " passive " in opposition to the " active," 
merely as negations: so that before his gaze our em- 
piric world divided itself into two separate spheres, 
into that of the positive qualities — with a bright, 
fiery, warm, light, rare, active-masculine character — 
and into that of the negative qualities. The latter 
express really only the lack, the absence of the 
others, the positive ones. He therefore described 
the sphere in which the positive qualities are absent 
as dark, earthy, cold, heavy, dense and altogether as 
of feminine-passive character. Instead of the expres- 
sions "positive" and "negative" he used the standing 
term "existent" and "non-existent" and had arrived 
with this at the proposition, that, in contradiction to 
Anaximander, this our world itself contains some- 
thing " existent," and of course something " non- 
existent." One is not to seek that "existent" out- 
side the world and as it were above our horizon ; but 
before us, and everywhere in every Becoming, some- 
thing " existent " and active is contained. 


With that however still remained to him the task of 
giving the more exact answer to the question : What 
is the Becoming ? and here was the moment where he 
had to leap, in order not to fall, although perhaps to 
such natures as that of Parmenides, even any leaping 
means a falling. Enough ! we get into fog, into the 
mysticism oi qualitates occulta, and even a little into 
mythology. Parmenides, like Heraclitus, looks at the 
general Becoming and Not-remaining and explains 
to himself a Passing only thus, that the "Non-Exist- 
ent" bore the guilt. For how should the "Existent" 
bear the guilt of Passing? Likewise,however,theOri- 
ginating,2'.g.,the Becoming, must come about through 
the assistance of the " Non-Existent " ; for the "Ex- 
istent" is always there and could not of itself first ori- 
ginate and it could not explain any Originating, any 
Becoming. Therefore the Originating, the Becom- 
ing as well as the Passing and Perishing have been 
brought about by the negative qualities. But that 
the originating "thing" has a content, and the passing 
" thing " loses a content, presupposes that the posi- 
tive qualities — and that just means that very content 
— participate likewise in both processes. In short the 
proposition results: "For the Becoming the 'Exist- 
ent' as well as the 'Non-Existent' is necessary; when 
they co-operate then a Becoming results." But how 
come the ''positive" and the "negative" to one an- 
other? Should they not on the contrary eternally flee 
one another as antitheses and thereby make every 
Becoming impossible? Here Parmenides appeals to 
a qualitas occulta, to a mystic tendency of the anti- 
thetical pairs to approach and attract one another, 
and he allegorises that peculiar contrariety by the 


name of Aphrodite, and by the empirically known 
relation of the male and female principle. It is the 
power of Aphrodite which plays the matchmaker 
between the antithetical pair, the "Existent" and 
the "Non-Existent" Passion brings together the 
antagonistic and antipathetic elements : the result 
is a Becoming. When Desire has become satiated, 
Hatred and the innate antagonism again drive 
asunder the "Existent" and the "Non-Existent" — 
then man says : the thing perishes, passes. 


But no one with impunity lays his profane hands 
on such awful abstractions as the " Existent " and 
the " Non-Existent " ; the blood freezes slowly as 
one touches them. There was a day upon which an 
odd idea suddenly occurred to Parmenides, an idea 
which seemed to take all value away from his former 
combinations, so that he felt inclined to throw them 
aside, like a money bag with old worn-out coins. 
It is commonly believed that an external impres- 
sion, in addition to the centrifugal consequence of 
such ideas as " existent " and " non-existent," has 
also been co-active in the invention of that day ; this 
impression was an acquaintance with the theology 
of the old roamer and rhapsodist, the singer of a 
mystic deification of Nature, the Kolophonian 
Xenophanes. Throughout an extraordinary life 
Xenophanes lived as a wandering poet and became 
through his travels a well-informed and most in- 
structive man who knew how to question and 
how to narrate, for which reason Heraclitus reck- 
oned him amongst the polyhistorians and above 


all amongst the "historic" natures, in the sense men- 
tioned. Whence and when came to him the mystic 
bent into the One and the eternally Resting, nobody 
will be able to compute ; perhaps it is only the con- 
ception of the finally settled old man, to whom, after 
the agitation of his erratic wanderings, and after 
the restless learning and searching for truth, the 
vision of a divine rest, the permanence of all things 
within a pantheistic primal peace appears as the 
highest and greatest ideal. After all it seems to 
me quite accidental that in the same place in Elea 
two men lived together for a time, each of whom 
carried in his head a conception of unity ; they 
formed no school and had nothing in common which 
perhaps the one might have learned from the other 
and then might have handed on. For, in the case 
of these two men, the origin of that conception of 
unity is quite different, yea opposite ; and if either of 
them has become at all acquainted with the doctrine 
of the other then, in order to understand it at all, he 
had to translate it first into his own language. With 
this translation however the very specific element of 
the other doctrine was lost. Whereas Parmenides 
arrived at the unity of the "Existent" purely through 
an alleged logical consequence and whereas he span 
that unity out of the ideas "Being" and "Not-Being," 
Xenophanes was a religious mystic and belonged, 
with that mystic unity, very properly to the Sixth 
Century. Although he was no such revolutionising 
personality as Pythagoras he had nevertheless in his 
wanderings the same bent and impulse to improve, 
purify, and cure men. He was the ethical teacher, 
but still in the stage of the rhapsodist ; in a later time 


he would have been a sophist. In the daring dis- 
approval of the existing customs and valuations he 
had not his equal in Greece; moreover he did not, 
like Heraclitus and Plato, retire into solitude but 
placed himself before the very public, whose exult- 
ing admiration of Homer, whose passionate pro- 
pensity for the honours of the gymnastic festivals, 
whose adoration of stones in human shape, he criti- 
cised severely with wrath and scorn, yet not as a 
brawling Thersites. The freedom of the individual 
was with him on its zenith; and by this almost limit- 
less stepping free from all conventions he was more 
closely related to Parmenides than by that last divine 
unity, which once he had beheld, in a visionary state 
worthy of that century. His unity scarcely had ex- 
pression and word in common with the one "Being" 
of Parmenides, and certainly had not the same origin. 
It was rather an opposite state of mind in which 
Parmenides found his doctrine of" Being." On that 
day and in that state he examined his two co-oper- 
ating antitheses, the " Existent '' and the " Non- 
Existent," the positive and the negative qualities, of 
which Desire and Hatred constitute the world and 
the Becoming. He was suddenly caught up, mis- 
trusting, by the idea of negative quality, of the "Non- 
Existent." For can something which does not exist 
be a quality? or to put the question in a broader sense : 
can anything indeed which does not exist, exist ? 
The only form of knowledge in which we at once put 
unconditional trust and the disapproval of which 
amounts to madness, is the tautology A = A. But 
this very tautological knowledge called inexorably 
to him : what does not exist, exists not ! What is, is ! 


Suddenly he feels upon his life the load of an enor- 
mous logical sin ; for had he not always without 
hesitation assumed that there were existing negative 
qualities, in short a "Non-Existent," that therefore, 
to express it by a formula, A = Not-A, which indeed 
could only be advanced by the most out and out 
perversity of thinking. It is true, as he recollected, 
the whole great mass of men judge with the same 
perversity ; he himself has only participated in the 
general crime against logic. But the same moment 
which charges him with this crime surrounds him 
with the light of the glory of an invention, he has 
found, apart from all human illusion, a principle, 
the key to the world-secret, he now descends into 
the abyss of things, guided by the firm and fearful 
hand of the tautological truth as to " Being." 

On the way thither he meets Heraclitus — an un- 
fortunate encounter ! Just now Heraclitus' play with 
antinomies was bound to be very hateful to him, 
who placed the utmost importance upon the severest 
separation of" Being" and "Not-Being"; propositions 
like this : " We are and at the same time we are not " 
— "'Being' and 'Not-Being' is at the same time the 
same thing and again not the same thing,'' proposi- 
tions through which all that he had just elucidated 
and disentangled became again dim and inextric- 
able, incited him to wrath. " Away with the men," 
he exclaimed, " who seem to have two heads and 
yet know nothing! With them truly everything is 
in flux, even their thinking! They stare at things 
stupidly, but they must be deaf as well as blind so 
to mix up the opposites"! The want of judgment 
on the part of the masses, glorified by playful anti- 


nomies and praised as the acme of all knowledge was 
to him a painful and incomprehensible experience. 

Now he dived into the cold bath of his awful ab- 
stractions. That which is true must exist in eternal 
presence, about it cannot be said " it was," " it will 
be." The " Existent " cannot have become ; for out of 
what should it have become ? Out of the " Non-Ex- 
istent " ? But that does not exist and can produce 
nothing. Out of the " Existent " ? This would not 
produce anything but itself The same applies to 
the Passing, it is just as impossible as the Becoming, 
as any change, any increase, any decrease. On the 
whole the proposition is valid : Everything about 
which it can be said : " it has been " or " it will be " 
does not exist ; about the "Existent" however it can 
never be said " it does not exist." The " Existent" is 
indivisible, for where is the second power, which 
should divide it? It is immovable, for whither should 
it move itself? It cannot be infinitely great nor in- 
finitely small, for it is perfect and a perfectly given 
infinitude is a contradiction. Thus the " Existent " is 
suspended, delimited, perfect, immovable, everywhere 
equally balanced and such equilibrium equally perfect 
at any point, like a globe, but not in a space, for 
otherwise this space would be a second " Existent." 
But there cannot exist several "Existents," for in 
order to separate them, something would have to exist 
which was notexisting, an assumption which neutral- 
ises itself Thus there exists only the eternal Unity. 

If now, however, Parmenides turned back his gaze 
to the world of Becoming, the existence of which he 
had formerly tried to understand by such ingenious 
conjectures, he was wroth at his eye seeing the 


Becoming at all, his ear hearing it. " Do not follow 
the dim-sighted eyes," now his command runs, " not 
the resounding ear nor the tongue, but examine 
only by the power of the thought." Therewith he 
accomplished the extremely important first critique 
of the apparatus of knowledge, although this critique 
was still inadequate and proved disastrous in its 
consequences. By tearing entirely asunder the 
senses and the ability to think in abstractions, i.e. 
reason, just as if they were two thoroughly separate 
capacities, he demolished the intellect itself, and 
incited people to that wholly erroneous separation 
of" mind " and "body" which, especially since Plato, 
lies like a curse on philosophy. All sense percep- 
tions, Parmenides judges, cause only illusions and 
their chief illusion is their deluding us to believe that 
even the " Non-Existent " exists, that even the Be- 
coming has a " Being." All that plurality, diversity 
and variety of the empirically known world, the 
change of its qualities, the order in its ups and downs, 
is thrown aside mercilessly as mere appearance and 
delusion ; from there nothing is to be learnt, there- 
fore all labour is wasted which one bestows upon 
this false, through-and-through futile world, the con- 
ception of which has been obtained by being hum- 
bugged by the senses. He who judges in such 
generalisations as Parmenides did, ceases therewith 
to be an investigator of natural philosophy in detail; 
his interest in phenomena withers away ; there de- 
velops even a hatred of being unable to get rid of 
this eternal fraud of the senses. Truth is now to 
dwell only in the most faded, most abstract gener- 
alities, in the empty husks of the most indefinite 


words, as in a maze of cobwebs ; and by such a 
" truth " now the philosopher sits, bloodless as an 
abstraction and surrounded by a web of formulae. 
The spider undoubtedly wants the blood of its vic- 
tims ; but the Parmenidean philosopher hates the 
very blood of his victims, the blood of Empiricism 
sacrificed by him. 


And that was a Greek who " flourished " about the 
time of the outbreak of the Ionic Revolution. At 
that time it was possible for a Greek to flee out of 
the superabundant reality, as out of a mere delusive 
schematism of theimaginative faculties — not perhaps 
like Plato into the land of the eternal ideas, into the 
workshop of the world-creator, in order to feast the 
eyes on unblemished, unbreakable primal-forms of 
things — but into the rigid death-like rest of the cold- 
est and emptiest conception, that of the " Being." We 
will indeed beware of interpreting such a remarkable 
fact by false analogies. That flight was not a world- 
flight in the sense of Indian philosophers ; no deep 
religious conviction as to the depravity, transitori- 
ness and accursedness of Existence demanded that 
flight — that ultimate goal, the rest in the " Being," 
was not striven after as the mystic absorption in 
one all-sufficing enrapturing conception which is a 
puzzle and a scandal to common men. The thought 
of Parmenides bears in itself not the slightest trace 
of the intoxicating mystical Indian fragrance, which 
is perhaps not wholly imperceptible in Pythagoras 
and Empedocles ; the strange thing in that fact, at 
this period, is rather the very absence of fragrance, 


colour, soul, form, the total lack of blood, religiosity 
and ethical warmth, the abstract-schematic — in a 
Greek ! — above all however our philosopher's awful 
energy of striving after Certainty, in a mythically 
thinking and highly emotional - fantastic age is 
quite remarkable. " Grant me but a certainty, ye 
gods ! " is the prayer of Parmenides, " and be it, in 
the ocean of Uncertainty, only a board, broad enough 
to lie on ! Everything becoming, everything lux- 
uriant, varied, blossoming, deceiving, stimulating, 
living, take all that for yourselves, and give to me 
but the single poor empty Certainty ! " 

In the philosophy of Parmenides the theme of 
ontology forms the prelude. Experience offered 
him nowhere a "Being" as he imagined it to himself, 
but from the fact that he could conceive of it he 
concluded that it must exist ; a conclusion which 
rests upon the supposition that we have an organ of 
knowledge which reaches into the nature of things 
and is independent of experience. The material of 
our thinking according to Parmenides does not exist 
in perception at all but is brought in from somewhere 
else, from an extra-material world to which by 
thinking we have a direct access. Against all simi- 
lar chains of reasoning Aristotle has already asserted 
that existence never belongs to the essence, never 
belongs to the nature of a thing. For that very 
reason from the idea of "Being" — of which the 
essentia precisely is only the " Being " — cannot be 
inferred an existentia of the " Being " at all. The 
logical content of that antithesis "Being" and "Not- 
Being" is perfectly nil, if the object lying at the 
bottom of it, if the precept cannot be given from 


which this antithesis has been deduced by abstrac- 
tion ; without this going baci< to the precept the 
antithesis is only a play with conceptions, through 
which indeed nothing is discerned. For the merely 
logical criterion of truth, as Kant teaches, namely the 
agreement of a discernment with the general and 
the formal laws of intellect and reason is, it is true, 
the conditio sine qua non, consequently the negative 
condition of all truth ; further however logic cannot 
go, and logic cannot discover by any touchstone the 
error which pertains not to the form but to the 
contents. As soon, however, as one seeks the con- 
tent for the logical truth of the antithesis : " That 
which is, is ; that which is not, is not," one will find 
indeed not a simple reality, which is fashioned 
rigidly according to that antithesis : about a tree I 
can say as well " it is " in comparison with all the 
other things, as well " it becomes " in comparison 
with itself at another moment of time as finally also 
" it is not," e.g., " it is not yet tree," as long as I per- 
haps look at the shrub. Words are only symbols for 
the relations of things among themselves and to us, 
and nowhere touch absolute truth; and now to crown 
all, the word "Being" designates only the most 
general relation, which connects all things, and so 
does the word " Not-Being." If however the Exist- 
ence of the things themselves be unprovable, then the 
relation of the things among themselves, the so-called 
" Being " and " Not-Being," will not bring us any 
nearer to the land of truth. By means of words and 
ideas we shall never get behind the wall of the rela- 
tions, let us say into some fabulous primal cause of 
things, and even in the pure forms of the sensitive 


faculty and of the intellect, in space, time and 
causality we gain nothing, which might resemble a 
" Veritas cBterna." It is absolutely impossible for 
the subject to see and discern something beyond 
himself, so impossible that Cognition and " Being " 
are the most contradictory of all spheres. And if in 
the uninstructed naivete oi the then critique of the in- 
tellect Parmenides was permitted to fancy that out of 
the eternally subjective idea he had come to a " Being- 
In-itself," then it is to-day, after Kant, a daring 
ignorance, if here and there, especially among badly 
informed theologians who want to play the philoso- 
pher, is proposed as the task of philosophy: "to 
conceive the Absolute by means of consciousness," 
perhaps even in the form : " the Absolute is already 
extant, else how could it be sought?" as Hegel has ex- 
pressed himself, or with the saying of Beneke : " that 
the ' Being' must be given somehow, must be attain- 
able for us somehow, since otherwise we could not 
even have the idea of Being.'" The idea of "Being"! 
As though that idea did not indicate the most miser- 
able empiric origin already in the etymology of the 
word. For esse means at the bottom : " to breathe," 
if man uses it of all other things, then he transmits 
the conviction that he himself breathes and lives by 
means of a metaphor, i.e., by means of something 
illogical to the other things and conceives of their 
Existence as a Breathing according to human ana- 
logy. Now the original meaning of the word soon 
becomes effaced ; so much however still remains that 
man conceives of the existence of other things ac- 
cording to the analogy of his own existence, there- 
fore anthropomorphically, and at any rate by means 


of an illogical transmission. Even to man, therefore 
apart from that transmission, the proposition : " I 
breathe, therefore a 'Being' exists" is quite insuf- 
ficient since against it the same objection must be 
made, as against the ambulo, ergo sum, or ergo est. 


The other idea, of greater import than that of the 
" Existent," and likewise invented already by Par- 
menides, although not yet so clearly applied as by 
his disciple Zeno is the idea of the Infinite. Nothing 
Infinite can exist ; for from such an assumption the 
contradictory idea of a perfect Infinitude would 
result. Since now our actuality, our existing world 
everywhere shows the character of that perfect 
Infinitude, our world signifies in its nature a contra- 
diction against logic and therewith also against 
reality and is deception, lie, fantasma. Zeno especi- 
ally applied the method of indirect proof ; he said 
for example, " There can be no motion from one 
place to another ; for if there were such a motion, 
then an Infinitude would be given as perfect, this 
however is an impossibility." Achilles cannot catch 
up the tortoise which has a small start in a race, 
for in order to reach only the point from which the 
tortoise began, he would have had to run through 
innumerable, infinitely many spaces, viz., first half 
of that space, then the fourth, then the sixteenth, 
and so on ad infinitum. If he does in fact overtake 
the tortoise then this is an illogical phenomenon, 
and therefore at any rate not a truth, not a reality, 
not real " Being," but only a delusion. For it is never 
possible to finish the infinite. Another popular ex- 



pression of this doctrine is the flying and yet resting 
arrow. At any instant of its flight it has a position ; 
in this position it rests. Now would the sum of the 
infinite positions of rest be identical with motion ? 
Would now the Resting, infinitely often repeated, 
be Motion, therefore its own opposite ? The Infinite 
is here used as the aquafortis of reality, through it 
the latter is dissolved. If however the Ideas are 
fixed, eternal and entitative — and for Parmenides 
"Being" and Thinking coincide — if therefore the In- 
finite can never be perfect, if Rest can never become 
Motion, then in fact the arrow has not flown at all ; 
it never left its place and resting position ; no 
moment of time has passed. Or expressed in an- 
otherway : in this so-called yet only alleged Actuality 
there exists neither time, nor space, nor motion. 
Finally the arrow itself is only an illusion ; for it 
originates out of the Plurality, out of the phantas- 
magoria of the " Non-One " produced by the senses. 
Suppose the arrow had a "Being," then it would be 
immovable, timeless, increate, rigid and eternal — an 
impossible conception ! Supposing that Motion 
was truly real, then there would be no rest, there- 
fore no position for the arrow, therefore no space — 
an impossible conception ! Supposing that time were 
real, then it could not be of an infinite divisibility ; 
the time which the arrow needed, would have to 
consist of a limited number of time-moments, each 
of these moments would have to be an Atomon — an 
impossible conception ! All our conceptions, as soon 
as their empirically-given content, drawn out of this 
concrete world, is taken as a Veritas csterna, lead to 
contradictions. If there is absolute motion, then 


there is no space ; if there is absolute space then 
there is no motion ; if there is absolute "Being," then 
there is no Plurality; if there is an absolute Plurality, 
then there is no Unity. It should at least become 
clear to us how little we touch the heart of things or 
untie the knot of reality with such ideas, whereas 
Parmenides and Zeno inversely hold fast to the 
truth and omnivalidity of ideas and condemn the 
perceptible world as the opposite of the true and 
omnivalid ideas, as an objectivation of the illogical 
and contradictory. With all their proofs they start 
from the wholly undemonstrable, yea improbable 
assumption that in that apprehensive faculty we 
possess the decisive, highest criterion of " Being" and 
"Not- Being," ?>.,of objective reality and its opposite ; 
those ideas are not to prove themselves true, to 
correct themselves by Actuality, as they are after 
all really derived from it, but on the contrary they 
are to measure and to judge Actuality, and in case 
of a contradiction with logic, even to condemn. 
In order to concede to them this judicial competence 
Parmenides had to ascribe to them the same" Being," 
which alone he allowed in general as the " Being " ; 
Thinking and that one increate perfect ball of the 
" Existent " were now no longer to be conceived as 
two different kinds of " Being," since there was not 
permitted a duality of" Being." Thus the over-risky 
flash of fancy had become necessaryto declare Think- 
ing and " Being" identical. No form of perceptibility, 
no symbol, no simile could possibly be of any help 
here ; the fancy was wholly inconceivable, but it 
was necessary, yea in the lack of every possibility 
of illustration it celebrated the highest triumph over 


the world and the claims of the senses. Thinking 
and that clod-like, ball-shaped, through-and-through 
dead-massive, and rigid-immovable " Being," must, 
according to the Parmenidean imperative, dissolve 
into one another and be the same in every respect, 
to the horror of fantasy. What does it matter that 
this identity contradicts the senses ! This contra- 
diction is just the guarantee that such an identity 
is not borrowed from the senses. 


Moreover against Parmenides could be produced 
a strong couple of argumenta ad hominein or ex con- 
cessis, by which, it is true, truth itself could not be 
brought to light, but at any rate the untruth of that 
absolute separation of the world of the senses and 
the world of the ideas, and the untruth of the iden- 
tityof "Being" and Thinking could be demonstrated. 
Firstly, if the Thinking of Reason in ideas is real, 
then also Plurality and Motion must have reality, for 
rational Thinking is mobile ; and more precisely, it is 
a motion from idea to idea, therefore within a plur- 
ality of realities. There is no subterfuge against 
that ; it is quite impossible to designate Thinking 
as a rigid Permanence, as an eternally immobile, 
intellectual Introspection of Unity. Secondly, if 
only fraud and illusion come from the senses, and if in 
reality there exists only the real identity of " Being " 
and Thinking, what then are the senses themselves ? 
They too are certainly Appearance only since they 
do not coincide with the Thinking, and their pro- 
duct, the world of senses, does not coincide with 
" Being." If however the senses themselves are 


Appearance to whom then are they Appearance ? 
How can they, being unreal, still deceive? The 
" Non-Existent " cannot even deceive. Therefore 
the Whence ? of deception and Appearance remains 
an enigma, yea, a contradiction. We call these argu- 
menta ad hominem : The Objection Of The Mobile 
Reason and that of The Origin Of Appearance. 
From the first would result the reality of Motion 
and of Plurality, from the second the impossibility 
of the Parmenidean Appearance, assuming that the 
chief-doctrine of Parmenides on the " Being " were 
accepted as true. This chief-doctrine however only 
says: The "Existent" only has a "Being," the "Non- 
Existent " does not exist. If Motion however has 
such a " Being," then to Motion applies what applies 
to the " Existent " in general : it is increate, eternal, 
indestructible, without increase or decrease. But if 
the " Appearance " is denied and a belief in it made 
untenable, by means of that question as to the 
Whence ? of the " Appearance," if the stage of the 
so-called Becoming, of change, our many-shaped, 
restless, coloured and rich Existence is protected 
from the Parmenidean rejection, then it is necessary 
to characterise this world of change and alteration 
as a su7n of such really existing Essentials, existing 
simultaneously into all eternity. Of a change in 
the strict sense, of a Becoming there cannot natur- 
ally be any question even with this assumption. 
But now Plurality has a real " Being," all qualities 
have a real "Being" and motion not less; and of any 
moment of this world — although these moments 
chosen at random lie at a distance of millenniums 
from one another — it would have to be possible to 


say : all real Essentials extant in this world are with- 
out exception co-existent, unaltered, undiminished, 
without increase, without decrease. A millennium 
later the world is exactly the same. Nothing has 
altered. If in spite of that the appearance of the 
world at the one time is quite different from that at 
the other time, then that is no deception, nothing 
merely apparent, but the effect of eternal motion. 
The real "Existent" is moved sometimes thus, some- 
times thus : together, asunder, upwards, downwards, 
into one another, pell-mell. 

With this conception we have already taken a step 
into the realm of the doctrine of Anaxagoras. By 
him both objections against Parmenides are raised 
in full strength ; that of the mobile Thinking and 
that of the Whence ? of " Appearance " ; but in the 
chief proposition Parmenides has subjugated him 
as well as all the younger philosophers and nature- 
explorers. They all deny the possibility of Becom- 
ing and Passing, as the mind of the people conceives 
them and as Anaximander and Heraclitus had as- 
sumed with greater circumspection and yet still heed- 
lessly. Such a mythological Originating out of the 
Nothing, such a Disappearing into the Nothing, such 
an arbitrary Changing of the Nothing into the Some- 
thing, such a random exchanging, putting on and 
putting off of the qualities was henceforth considered 
senseless ; but so was, and for the same reasons, an 
originating of the Many out of the One, of the mani- 
fold qualities out of the one primal-quality, in short 
the derivation ofthe worldoutof a primary substance, 


as argued by Thales and Heraclitus. Rather was now 
the real problem advanced of applying the doctrineof 
increate imperishable "Being" to this existing world, 
without taking one's refuge in the theory of appear- 
ance and deception. But if the empiric world is not 
to be Appearance, if the things are not to be derived 
out of Nothing and just as little out of the one Some- 
thing, then these things must contain in themselves a 
real "Being," their matter and content must beuncon- 
ditionally real, and all change can refer only to the 
form, i.e., to the position, order, grouping, mixing, 
separation of these eternally co-existing Essentials. 
It is just as in a game of dice ; they are ever the 
same dice; but falling sometimes thus, sometimes 
thus, they mean to us something different. All older 
theories had gone back to a primal element, as womb 
and cause of Becoming, be this water, air, fire or the 
Indefinite of Anaximander. Against that Anaxa- 
goras now asserts that out of the Equal the Unequal 
could never come forth, and that out of the one 
" Existent " the change could never be explained. 
Whether now one were to imagine that assumed 
matter to be rarefied or condensed, one would never 
succeed by such a condensation or rarefaction in 
explaining the problem one would like to explain : 
the plurality of qualities. But if the world in fact 
is full of the most different qualities then these must, 
in case they are not appearance, have a " Being," i.e., 
must be eternal, increate, imperishable and ever co- 
existing. Appearance, however, they cannot be, 
since the question as to the Whence ? of Appearance 
remains unanswered, yea answers itself in the nega- 
tive ! The earlier seekers after Truth h^d intended 


to simplify the problem of Becoming by advancing 
only one substance, which bore in its bosom the 
possibilities of all Becoming ; now on the contrary 
it is asserted : there are innumerable substances, 
but never more, never less, and never new ones. 
Only Motion, playing dice with them throws them 
into ever new combinations. That Motion however 
is a truth and not Appearance, Anaxagoras proved 
in opposition to Parmenides by the indisputable 
succession of our conceptions in thinking. We have 
therefore in the most direct fashion the insight into 
the truth of motion and succession in the fact that 
we think and have conceptions. Therefore at any 
rate the one rigid, resting, dead " Being " of Par- 
menides has been removed out of the way, there 
are many " Existents " just as surely as all these 
many " Existents " (existing things, substances) 
are in motion. Change is motion — but whence 
originates motion? Does this motion leave per- 
haps wholly untouched the proper essence of those 
many independent, isolated substances, and, accord- 
ing to the most severe idea of the " Existent," 
must not motion in itself be foreign to them ? Or 
does it after all belong to the things themselves? 
We stand here at an important decision ; according 
to which way we turn, we shall step into the realm 
either of Anaxagoras or of Empedocles or of Democ- 
ritus. The delicate question must be raised: if there 
are many substances, and if these many move, what 
moves them ? Do they move one another ? Or is it 
perhaps only gravitation ? Or are there magic forces 
of attraction and repulsion within the things them- 
selves ? Or does the cause of n^otion }ie outside 


these many real substances? Or putting the question 
more pointedly : if two things show a succession, a 
mutual change of position, does that originate from 
themselves ? And is this to be explained mechani- 
cally or magically ? Or if this should not be the 
case is it a third something which moves them? 
It is a sorry problem, for Parmenides would still 
have been able to prove against Anaxagoras the 
impossibility of motion, even granted that there are 
many substances. For he could say : Take two 
Substances existing of themselves, each with quite 
differently fashioned, autonomous, unconditioned 
"Being" — and of such kind are the Anaxagorean sub- 
stances — they can never clash together, never move, 
never attract one another, there exists between them 
no causality, no bridge, they do not come into con- 
tact with one another, do not disturb one another, 
they do not interest one another, they are utterly 
indifferent. The impact then is just as inexplicable 
as the magic attraction : that which is utterly foreign 
cannot exercise any effect upon another, therefore 
cannot move itself nor allow itself to be moved. 
Parmenides would even have added : the only way 
of escape which is left to you is this, to ascribe 
motion to the things themselves ; then however all 
that you know and see as motion is indeed only a 
deception and not true motion, for the only kind 
of motion which could belong to those absolutely 
original substances, would be merely an autogenous 
motion limited to themselves without any effect. 
But you assume motion in order to explain those 
effects of change, of the disarrangement in space, of 
^Iteration, in short the causalities and relations of 


the things among themselves. But these very effects 
would not be explained and would remain as prob- 
lematic as ever ; for this reason one cannot conceive 
why it should be necessary to assume a motion since 
it does not perform that which you demand from it. 
Motion does not belong to the nature of things and 
is eternally foreign to them. 

Those opponents of the Eleatean unmoved Unity 
were induced to make light of such an argument by 
prejudices of a perceptual character. It seems so 
irrefutable that each veritable " Existent " is a space- 
filling body, a lump of matter, large or small but in 
any case spacially dimensioned; so that two or more 
such lumps cannot be in one space. Under this 
hypothesis Anaxagoras, as later on Democritus, 
assumed that they must knock against each other ; 
if in their motions they came by chance upon one 
another, that they would dispute the same space with 
each other, and that this struggle was the very cause 
of all Change. In other words : those wholly isolated, 
thoroughly heterogeneous and eternally unalter- 
able substances were after all not conceived as being 
absolutely heterogeneous but all had in addition to a 
specific, wholly peculiar quality, also one absolutely 
homogeneous substratum : a piece of space-filling 
matter. In their participation in matter they all 
stood equal and therefore could act upon one another, 
i.e., knock one another. Moreover all Change did 
not in the least depend on the heterogeneity of 
those substances but on their homogeneity, as matter. 
At the bottom of the assumption of Anaxagoras is 
a logical oversight ; for that which is the " Existent- 
In-Itself" mustbewhollyunconditional andcoherent, 


is therefore not allowed to assume as its cause any- 
thing, — whereas all those Anaxagorean substances 
have still a conditioning Something : matter, and 
already assume its existence ; the substance " Red " 
for example was to Anaxagoras not just merely red 
in itself but also in a reserved or suppressed way a 
piece of matter without any qualities. Only with 
this matter the "Red- In- Itself" acted upon other 
substances, not with the " Red," but with that which 
is not red, not coloured, nor in any way qualitatively 
definite. If the "Red" had been taken strictly as 
" Red," as the real substance itself, therefore without 
that substratum, then Anaxagoras would certainly 
not have dared to speak of an effect of the " Red " 
upon other substances, perhaps even with the phrase 
that the "Red-In-Itself"was transmittingthe impact 
received from the " Fleshy- In-Itself" Then it would 
be clear that such an " Existent " par excellence could 
never be moved. 

One has to glance at the opponents of the Eleates, 
in order to appreciate the extraordinary advantages 
in the assumption of Parmenides. What embarrass- 
ments, — from which Parmenides had escaped, — 
awaited Anaxagoras and all who believed in a plur- 
alityof substances, with the question, Howmanysub- 
stances? Anaxagoras made the leap, closed his eyes 
and said, " Infinitely many " ; thus he had flown at 
least beyond the incredibly laborious proof of a de- 
finite number of elementary substances. Since these 
"Infinitely Many" had to exist without increase and 
unaltered for eternities, in that assumption was given 
the contradiction of an infinity to be conceived as 


completed and perfect. In short, Plurality, Motion, 
Infinity driven into flight by Parmenides with the 
amazing proposition of the one " Being," returned 
from their exile and hurled their projectiles at the 
opponents of Parmenides, causing them wounds for 
which there is no cure. Obviously those opponents 
have no real consciousness and knowledge as to the 
awful force of those Eleatean thoughts, " There can 
be no time, no motion, no space ; for all these we 
can only think of as infinite, and to be more explicit, 
firstly infinitely large, then infinitely divisible ; but 
everything infinite has no ' Being,' does not exist," 
and this nobody doubts, who takes the meaning of 
the word " Being " severely and considers the exist- 
ence of something contradictory impossible, e.g., the 
existence of a completed infinity. I f however the very 
Actuality shows us everything under the form of the 
completed infinity then it becomes evident that it 
contradicts itself and therefore has no true reality. If 
thoseopponents howevershould object: "but in your 
thinking itself there does exist succession, therefore 
neither could your thinking be real and consequently 
could not prove anything," then Parmenides perhaps 
like Kant in a similar case of an equal objection 
would have answered : " I can, it is true, say my 
conceptions follow upon one another, but that means 
only that we are not conscious of them unless with- 
in a chronological order, i.e., according to the form 
of the inner sense. For that reason time is not a 
something in itself nor any order or quality objec- 
tively adherent to things." We should therefore have 
to distinguish between the Pure Thinking, that would 
be timeless like the one Parmenidean " Being," and 


theconsciousness of this thinking, and thelatter would 
already translate the thinking into the form of ap- 
pearance, i.e., of succession, plurality and motion. It 
is probable that Parmenides would have availed him- 
self of this loophole ; however, the same objection 
would then have to be raised against him which is 
raised against Kant by A. Spir (" Thinking And 
Reality," 2nd ed., vol. i., pp. 209, &c.). " Now, in the 
first place however it is clear, that I cannot know 
anything of a succession as such, unless I have the 
successive members of the same simultaneously in 
my consciousness. Thus the conception of a suc- 
cession itself is not at all successive, hence also quite 
different from the succession of our conceptions. 
Secondly Kant's assumption implies such obvious 
absurdities that one is surprised that he could leave 
them unnoticed. Caesar and Socrates according to 
this assumption are not really dead, they still live 
exactly as they did two thousand years ago and only 
seem to be dead, as a consequence of an organisation 
of my inner sense." Future men already live and if 
they do not now step forward as living that organisa- 
tion of the " inner sense " is likewise the cause of it. 
Here above all other things the question is to be put : 
How can the beginning and the end of conscious 
life itself, together with all its internal and external 
senses, exist merely in the conception of the inner 
sense? The fact is indeed this, that one certainly 
cannot deny the reality of Change. If it is thrown 
out through the window it slips in again through the 
keyhole. If one says: " It merely seems to me, that 
conditions and conceptions change," — then this very 
semblance and appearance itself is something objec- 


tively existing and within it without doubt the suc- 
cession has objective reality, some things in it really 
do succeed one another. — Besides one must observe 
that indeed the whole critique of reason only has 
cause and right of existence under the assumption 
that to us our conceptions themselves appear exactly 
as they are. For if the conceptions also appeared 
to us otherwise than they really are, then one would 
not be able to advance any solid proposition about 
them, and therefore would not be able to accomplish 
any gnosiology or any " transcendental " investiga- 
tion of objective validity. Now it remains however 
beyond all doubt that our conceptions themselves 
appear to us as successive." 

The contemplation of this undoubted succession 
and agitation has now urged Anaxagoras to a 
memorable hypothesis. Obviously the conceptions 
themselves moved themselves, were not pushed and 
had no cause of motion outside themselves. There- 
fore he said to himself, there exists a something 
which bears in itself the origin and the commence- 
ment of motion ; secondly, however, he notices that 
this conception was moving not only itself but also 
something quite different, the body. He discovers 
therefore, in the most immediate experience an effect 
of conceptions upon expansive matter, which makes 
itself known as motion in the latter. That was to 
him a fact; and only incidentally it stimulated him to 
explain this fact. Let it suffice that he had a regula- 
tive schema for the motion in the world, — this motion 
he now understood either as a motion of the true 
isolated essences through the Conceptual Principle, 
the Nous, or as a motion through a something already 


moved. That with his fundamental assumption the 
latter kind, the mechanical transmission of motions 
and impacts likewise contained in itself a problem, 
probably escaped him ; the commonness and every- 
day occurrence of the effect through impact most 
probably dulled his eye to the mysteriousness of 
impact. On the other hand he certainly felt the 
problematic, even contradictory nature of an effect 
of conceptions upon substances existing in them- 
selves and he also tried therefore to trace this effect 
back to a mechanical push and impact which were 
considered by him as quite comprehensible. For the 
Nous too was without doubt such a substance exist- 
ing in itself and was characterised by him as a very 
delicate and subtle matter, with the specific quality 
of thinking. With a character assumed in this way, 
the effect of this matter upon other matter had of 
course to be of exactly the same kind as that which 
another substance exercises upon a third, i.e., a 
mechanical effect, moving by pressure and impact. 
Still the philosopher had now a substance which 
moves itself and other things, a substance of which 
the motion did not come from outside and depended 
on no one else : whereas it seemed almost a 
matter of indifference how this automobilism was to 
be conceived of, perhaps similar to that pushing 
themselves hither and thither of very fragile and 
small globules of quicksilver. Among all questions 
which concern motion there is none more trouble- 
some than thequestion as to the beginning of motion. 
For if one may be allowed to conceive of all remain- 
ing motions as effect and consequences, then never- 
theless the first primal motion is still to be explained ; 


for the mechanical motions, the first link of the chain 
certainly cannot lie in a mechanical motion, since 
that would be as good as recurring to the nonsensical 
idea of the causa sui. But likewise it is not feasible 
to attribute to the eternal, unconditional things a 
motion of their own, as it were from the beginning, 
as dowry of their existence. For motion cannot be 
conceived without a direction whither and where- 
upon, therefore only as relation and condition ; but 
a thing is no longer "entitative-in-itself " and "un- 
conditional," if according to its nature it refers neces- 
sarily to something existing outside of it. In this 
embarrassment Anaxagoras thought he had found 
an extraordinary help and salvation in that Nous, 
automobile and otherwise independent ; the nature 
of that Nous being just obscure and veiled enough 
to produce the deception about it, that its assumption 
also involves that forbidden causa sui. To empiric 
observation it is even an established fact that Con- 
ception is not a causa sui but the effect of the brain, 
yea, it must appear to that observation as an odd 
eccentricity to separate the "mind," the product of the 
brain, from its causa and still to deem it existing after 
this severing. This Anaxagoras did ; he forgot the 
brain, its marvellous design, the delicacy and intri- 
cacy of its convolutions and passages and he decreed 
the " Mind-In-Itself." This "Mind-In-Itself " alone 
among all substances had Free-will, — a grand dis- 
cernment ! This Mind was able at any odd time to 
begin with the motion of the things outside it ; on 
the other hand for ages and ages it could occupy 
itself with itself — in short Anaxagoras was allowed 
to assume a^rj/ moment of motion in some primeval 


age, as the Chalaza of all so-called Becoming ; i.e., 
of all Change, namely of all shifting and rearrang- 
ing of the eternal substances and their particles. 
Although the Mind itself is eternal, it is in no way 
compelled to torment itself for eternities with the 
shifting about of grains of matter ; and certainly 
there was a time and a state of those matters — it is 
quite indifferent whether that time was of long or 
short duration — during which the Nous had not 
acted upon them, during which they were still un- 
moved. That is the period of the Anaxagorean 


The Anaxagorean chaos is not an immediately 
evident conception ; in order to grasp it one must 
have understood the conception which our philo- 
sopher had with respect to the so-called "Becoming." 
For in itself the state of all heterogeneous " Ele- 
mentary-existences " before all motion would by no 
means necessarily result in an absolute mixture of 
all " seeds of things," as the expression of Anaxa- 
goras runs, an intermixture, which he imagined as a 
complete pell-mell, disordered in its smallest parts, 
after all these " Elementary-existences " had been, 
as in a mortar, pounded and resolved into atoms of 
dust, so that now in that chaos, as in an amphora, 
they could be whirled into a medley. One might 
say that this conception of the chaos did not contain 
anything inevitable, that one merely needed rather 
to assume any chance position of all those " exist- 
ences," but not an infinite decomposition of them ; 
an irregular side-by-side arrangement was already 
sufficient ; there was no need of a pell-mell, let alone 


such a total pell-mell. What therefore put into 
Anaxagoras' head that difficult and complex con- 
ception ? As already said : his conception of the 
empirically given Becoming. From his experience 
he drew first a most extraordinary proposition on the 
Becoming, and this proposition necessarily resulted 
in that doctrine of the chaos, as its consequence. 

The observation of the processes of evolution in 
nature, not a consideration of an earlier philosophi- 
cal system, suggested to Anaxagoras the doctrine, 
that All originated from All; this was the conviction 
of the natural philosopher based upon a manifold, 
and at the bottom, of course, excessively inadequate 
induction. He proved it thus : if even the contrary 
could originate out of the contrary, e.g., the Black out 
of the White, everything is possible ; that however 
did happen with the dissolution of white snow 
into black water. The nourishment of the body 
he explained to himself in this way : that in the 
articles of food there must be invisibly small con- 
stituents of flesh or blood or bone which during 
alimentation became disengaged and united with 
the homogeneous in the body. But if All can become 
out of All, the Firm out of the Liquid, the Hard out 
of the Soft, the Black out of the White, the Fleshy 
out of Bread, then also All must be contained in All. 
The names of things in that case express only the 
preponderance of the one substance over the other 
substances to be met with in smaller, often imper- 
ceptible quantities. In gold, that is to say, in that 
which one designates a potiore by the name " gold," 
there must be also contained silver, snow, bread, 
and flesh, but in very small quantities ; the whole 


is called after the preponderating item, the gold- 

But how is it possible, that one substance pre- 
ponderates and fills a thing in greater mass than 
the others present? Experience shows, that this 
preponderance is gradually produced only through 
Motion, that the preponderance is the result of a 
process, which we commonly call Becoming. On the 
other hand, that " All is in All " is not the result of a 
process, but, on the contrary, the preliminary condi- 
tion of all Becoming and all Motion, and is conse- 
quently previous to all Becoming. In other words: 
experience teaches, that continually the like is added 
to the 1 ike, ^.^., through nourishment, therefore origin- 
ally those homogeneous substanceswere not together 
and agglomerated, but they were separate. Rather, 
in all empiric processes coming before our eyes, the 
homogeneous is always segregated from the hetero- 
geneous and transmitted {e.g., during nourishment, 
the particles of flesh out of the bread, &c.), conse- 
quently the pell-mell of the different substances is the 
older form of the constitution of things and in point 
of time previous to all Becoming and Moving. If 
all so-called Becoming is a segregating and presup- 
poses a mixture, the question arises, what degree of 
intermixture this pell-mell must have had originally. 
Although the process of a moving on the part of the 
homogeneous to the homogeneous — ?'.«., Becoming — 
has already lasted an immense time, one recognises 
in spite of that, that even yet in all things remainders 
and seed-grains of all other things are enclosed, wait- 
ing for their segregation, and one recognises further 
that only here and there a preponderance has been 


brought about ; the primal mixture must have been 
a complete one, i.e., going down to the infinitely 
small, since the separation and unmixing takes up 
an infinite length of time. Thereby strict adherence 
is paid to the thought : that everything which pos- 
sesses an essential " Being " is infinitely divisible, 
without forfeiting its specificum. 

According to these hypotheses Anaxagoras con- 
ceives of the world's primal existence : perhaps as 
similar to a dust-like mass of infinitely small, con- 
crete particles of which every one is specifically 
simple and possesses one quality only, yet so ar- 
ranged that every specific quality is represented in 
an infinite number of individual particles. Such 
particles Aristotle has called Homoiomere in con- 
sideration of the fact that they are the Parts, all 
equal one to another, of a Whole which is homo- 
geneous with its Parts. One would however com- 
mit a serious mistake to equate this primal pell-mell 
of all such particles, such "seed -grains of things" to 
the one primal matter of Anaximander; for the 
latter's primal matter called the " Indefinite '' is a 
thoroughly coherent and peculiar mass, the former's 
primal pell-mell is an aggregate of substances. It 
is true one can assert about this Aggregate of Sub- 
stances exactly the same as about the Indefinite of 
Anaximander, as Aristotle does : it could be neither 
white nor grey, nor black, nor of any other colour ; 
it was tasteless, scentless, and altogether as a Whole 
defined neither quantitatively nor qualitatively : so 
far goes the similarity of the Anaximandrian Inde- 
finite and the Anaxagorean Primal Mixture. But 
disregarding this negative equality they distinguish 


themselves one from another positively by the latter 
being a compound, the former a unity. Anaxagoras 
had by the assumption of his Chaos at least so much 
to his advantage, that he was not compelled to de- 
duce the Many from the One, the Becoming out of 
the " Existent." 

Of course with his complete intermixture of the 
"seeds" he had to admit one exception : the Nous 
was not then, nor is It now admixed with any thing. 
For if It were admixed with only one " Existent," 
It would have, in infinite divisions, to dwell in 
all things. This exception is logically very dubi- 
ous, especially considering the previously described 
material nature of the Nous, it has something mytho- 
logical in itself and seems arbitrary, but was how- 
ever, according to Anaxagorean pramissa, a strict 
necessity. The Mind, which is moreover infinitely 
divisible like any other matter, only not through 
other matters but through Itself, has, if It divides 
Itself, in dividing and conglobating sometimes in 
large, sometimes in small masses. Its equal mass 
and quality from all eternity; and that which at this 
minute exists as Mind in animals, plants, men, was 
also Mind without a more or less, although dis- 
tributed in another way a thousand years ago. But 
wherever It had a relation to another substance, 
there It never was admixed with it, but voluntarily 
seized it, moved and pushed it arbitrarily — in short, 
ruled it. Mind, which alone has motion in Itself, 
alone possesses ruling power in this world and shows 
it through moving the grains of matter. But whither 
does It move them? Or is a motion conceivable, 
without direction, without path ? Is Mind in Its 


impacts just as arbitrary as it is, with regard to the 
time when It pushes, and when It does not push ? 
In short, does Chance, i.e.., the blindest option, rule 
within Motion? At this boundary we step into 
the Most Holy within the conceptual realm of 

What had to be done with that chaotic pell-mell 
of the primal state previous to all motion, so that 
out of it, without any increase of new substances 
and forces, the existing world might originate, with 
its regular stellar orbits, with its regulated forms of 
seasons and days, with its manifold beauty and order, 
— in short, so that out of the Chaos might come a 
Cosmos ? This can be only the effect of Motion, and 
of a definite and well-organised motion. This Motion 
itself is the means of the Nous, Its goal would be 
the perfect segregation of the homogeneous, a goal 
up to the present not yet attained, because the dis- 
order and the mixture in the beginning was infinite. 
This goal is to be striven after only by an enormous 
process, not to be realized suddenly by a mythological 
stroke of the wand. If ever, at an infinitely distant 
point of time, it is achieved that everything homo- 
geneous is brought together and the " primal-exist- 
ences" undivided are encamped side by side in beauti- 
ful order, and every particle has found its comrades 
and its home, and the great peace comes about after 
the great division and splitting up of the substances, 
and there will be no longer anything that is divided 
and split up, then the Nous will again return into 
Its automobilism and, no longer Itself divided, roam 
through the world, sometimes in larger, sometimes 


in smaller masses, as plant-mind or animal-mind, and 
no longer will It take up Its new dwelling-place in 
other matter. Meanwhile the task has not been 
completed ; but the kind of motion which the Nous 
has thought out, in order to solve the task, shows a 
marvellous suitableness, for by this motion the task 
is further solved in each new moment. For this 
motion has the character of concentrically progres- 
sive circular motion ; it began at some one point of 
the chaotic mixture, in the form of a little gyration, 
and in ever larger paths this circular movement tra- 
verses all existing " Being," jerking forth everywhere 
the homogeneous to the homogeneous. At first this 
revolution brings everything Dense to the Dense, 
everything Rare to the Rare, and likewise all that 
is Dark, Bright, Moist, Dry to their kind ; above 
these general groups or classifications there are 
again two still more comprehensive, namely Ether, 
that is to say everything that is Warm, Bright, Rare, 
and Aer, that is to say everything that is Dark, 
Cold, Heavy, Firm. Through the segregation of the 
ethereal masses from the aerial, there is formed, as 
the most immediate effect of that epicycle whose 
centre moves along in the circumference of ever 
greater circles, a something as in an eddy made in 
standing water ; heavy compounds are led towards 
the middle and compressed. Just in the same way 
that travelling waterspout in chaos forms itself on 
the outer side out of the Ethereal, Rare, Bright Con- 
stituents, on the inner side out of the Cloudy, Heavy, 
Moist Constituents. Then in the course of this pro- 
cess out of that Aerial mass, conglomerating in its 
interior, water is separated, and again out of the 


water the earthy element, and then out of the 
earthy element, under the effect of the awful cold 
are separated the stones. Again at some juncture 
masses of stone, through the momentum of the rota- 
tion, are torn away sideways from the earth and 
thrown into the realm of the hot light Ether ; there 
in the latter's fiery element they are made to glow 
and, carried along in the ethereal rotation, they ir- 
radiate light, and as sun and stars illuminate and 
warm the earth, in herself dark and cold. The whole 
conception is of a wonderful daring and simplicity 
and has nothing of that clumsy and anthropomor- 
phical teleology, which has been frequently connected 
with the name of Anaxagoras. That conception has 
its greatness just in this, that it derives the whole 
Cosmos of Becoming out of the moved circle, whereas 
Parmenides contemplated the true " Existent" as a 
resting, dead ball. Once that circle is put into motion 
and caused to roll by the Nous, then all the order, 
law and beauty of the world is the natural conse- 
quence of that first impetus. How very much one 
wrongs Anaxagoras if one reproaches him for the 
wise abstention from teleology which shows itself in 
this conception and talks scornfully of his Nous as 
of a deus ex machina. Rather, on account of the 
elimination of mythological and theistic miracle- 
working and anthropomorphic ends and utilities, 
Anaxagoras might have made use of proud words 
similar to those which Kant used in his Natural His- 
tory of the Heavens. For it is indeed a sublime 
thought, to retrace that grandeur of the cosmos and 
the marvellous arrangement of the orbits of the stars, 
to retrace all that, in all forms to a simple, purely 


mechanical motion and, as it were, to a moved mathe- 
matical figure, and therefore not to reduce all that to 
purposes and intervening hands of a machine-god, 
but only to a kind of oscillation, which, having once 
begun, is in its progress necessary and definite, and 
effects result which resemble the wisest computation 
of sagacity and extremely well thought-out fitness 
without being anything of the sort. " I enjoy the 
pleasure," says Kant, "' of seeing how a well-ordered 
whole produces itself without the assistance of arbi- 
trary fabrications, under the impulse of fixed laws of 
motion — a well-ordered whole which looks so similar 
to that world-system which is ours, that I cannot ab- 
stain from considering it to be the same. It seems to 
me that one might say here, in a certain sense without 
presumption : ' Give me matter and I will build a 
world out of it' " 


Suppose now, that for once we allow that primal 
mixture as rightly concluded, some considerations 
especially from Mechanics seem to oppose the 
grand plan of the world edifice. For even though 
the Mind at a point causes a circular movement 
its continuation is only conceivable with great 
difficulty, especially since it is to be infinite and 
gradually to make all existing masses rotate. As 
a matter of course one would assume that the pres- 
sure of all the remaining matter would have crushed 
out this small circular movement when it had 
scarcely begun ; that this does not happen pre- 
supposes on the part of the stimulating Nous, that 
the latter began to work suddenly with awful force, 
or at any rate so quickly, that we must call the 


motion a whirl : such a whirl as Democritus him- 
self imagined. And since this whirl must be in- 
finitely strong in order not to be checked through 
the whole world of the Infinite weighing heavily 
upon it, it will be infinitely quick, for strength can 
manifest itself originally only in speed. On the 
contrary the broader the concentric rings are, the 
slower will be this motion ; if once the motion could 
reach the end of the infinitely extended world, then 
this motion would have already infinitely little speed 
of rotation. Vice versd, if we conceive of the motion 
as infinitely great, i.e., infinitely quick, at the moment 
of the very first beginning of motion, then the origi- 
nal circle must have been infinitely small ; we get 
therefore as the beginning a particle rotated round 
itself, a particle with an infinitely small material con- 
tent. This however would not at all explain the 
further motion ; one might imagine even all particles 
of the primal mass to rotate round themselves and 
yet the whole mass would remain unmoved and 
unseparated. If, however, that material particle 
of infinite smallness, caught and swung by the 
Nous, was not turned round itself but described 
a circle somewhat larger than a point, this would 
cause it to knock against other material particles, to 
move them on, to hurl them, to make them rebound 
and thus gradually to stir up a great and spread- 
ing tumult within which, as the next result, that 
separation of the aerial masses from the ethereal 
had to take place. Just as the commencement of 
the motion itself is an arbitrary act of the Nous, 
arbitrary also is the manner of this commencement 
in so far as the first motion circumscribes a circle of 


which the radius is chosen somewhat larger than a 


Here of course one might ask, what fancy had 
at that time so suddenly occurred to the Nous, to 
knock against some chance material particle out of 
that number of particles and to turn it around in 
whirling dance and why that did not occur to It 
earlier. Whereupon Anaxagoras would answer : 
" The Nous has the privilege of arbitrary action ; 
It may begin at any chance time, It depends on It- 
self, whereas everything else is determined from 
outside. It has no duty, and no end which It 
might be compelled to pursue; if It did once begin 
with that motion and set Itself an end, this after 
all was only — the answer is difficult, Heraclitus 
would say — play ! " 

That seems always to have been the last solution 
or answer hovering on the lips of the Greek. The 
Anaxagorean Mind is an artist and in truth the most 
powerful genius of mechanics and architecture, creat- 
ing with the simplest means the most magnificent 
forms and tracks and as it were a mobile architecture, 
but always out of that irrational arbitrariness which 
lies in the soul of the artist. It is as though Anaxa- 
goras was pointing at Phidias and in face of the 
immense work of art, the Cosmos, was calling out to 
us as he would do in front of the Parthenon : " The 
Becoming is no moral, but only an artistic pheno- 
menon." Aristotle relates that, to the question what 
made life worth living, Anaxagoras had answered : 
"Contemplating the heavens and the total order 
of the Cosmos." He treated physical things so 


devotionally, and with that same mysterious awe, 
which we feel when standing in front of an antique 
temple ; his doctrine became a species of free-think- 
ing religious exercise, protecting itself through 
the odi profanum vulgus et arceo and choosing its 
adherents with precaution out of the highest and 
noblest society of Athens. In the exclusive com- 
munity of the Athenian Anaxagoreans the mytho- 
logy of the people was allowed only as a symbolic 
language ; all myths, all gods, all heroes were con- 
sidered here only as hieroglyphics of the interpreta- 
tion of nature, and even the Homeric epic was said 
to be the canonic song of the sway of the Nous and 
the struggles and laws of Nature. Here and there 
a note from this society of sublime free-thinkers 
penetrated to the people ; and especially Euripides, 
the great and at all times daring Euripides, ever 
thinking of something new, dared to let many things 
become known by means of the tragic mask, many 
things whichpierced like an arrow through the senses 
of the masses and from which the latter freed them- 
selves only by means of ludicrous caricatures and 
ridiculous re-interpretations. 

The greatest of all Anaxagoreans however is Peri- 
cles, the mightiest and worthiest man of the world ; 
and Plato bears witness that the philosophy of An- 
axagoras alone had given that sublime flight to the 
genius of Pericles. When as a public orator he stood 
before his people, in the beautiful rigidity and immo- 
bility of a marble Olympian and now, calm, wrapped 
in his mantle, with unruffled drapery, without any 
change of facial expression, without smile, with a 
voice the strong tone of which remained ever the 


same, and when he now spoke in an absolutely un- 
Demosthenic but merely Periclean fashion, when 
he thundered, struck with Hghtnings, annihilated 
and redeemed — then he was the epitome of the 
Anaxagorean Cosmos, the image of the Nous, who 
has built for Itself the most beautiful and dignified 
receptacle, then Pericles was as it were the visible 
human incarnation of the building, moving, eliminat- 
ing, ordering, reviewing, artistically-undetermined 
force of the Mind. Anaxagoras himself said man was 
the most rational being or he must necessarily shelter 
the Nous within himself in greater fulness than all 
other beings, because he had such admirable organs 
as his hands ; Anaxagoras concluded therefore, that 
that Nous, according to the extent to which It made 
Itself master of a material body, was always form- 
ing for Itself out of this material the tools cor- 
responding to Its degree of power, consequently the 
Nous made the most beautiful and appropriate tools, 
when It was appearing in his greatest fulness. And 
as the most wondrous and appropriate action of the 
Nous was that circular primal-motion, since at that 
time the Mind was still together, undivided, in Itself, 
thus to the listening Anaxagoras the effect of the 
Periclean speech often appeared perhaps as a simile 
of that circular primal-motion ; for here too he per- 
ceived a whirl of thoughts moving itself at first with 
awful force but in an orderly manner, which in con- 
centric circles gradually caught and carried away the 
nearest and farthest and which, when it reached its 
end, had reshaped — organising and segregating — 
the whole nation. 

To the later philosophers of antiquity the way in 


which Anaxagoras made use of his Nous for the in- 
terpretation of the world was strange, indeed scarcely 
pardonable ; to them it seemed as though he had 
found a grand tool but had not well understood it and 
they tried to retrieve what the finder had neglected. 
They therefore did not recognise what meaning the 
abstention of Anaxagoras, inspired by the purest 
spirit of the method of natural science, had, and that 
this abstention first of all in every case puts to itself 
the question : " What is the cause of Something " ? 
{causa efficiens) — and not " What is the purpose of 
Something"? [causa finalis). The Nous has not been 
dragged in by Anaxagoras for the purpose of answer- 
ing the special question : "What is the cause of motion 
and what causes regular motions ? " ; Plato however 
reproaches him, that he ought to have, but had not 
shown that everything was in its own fashion and its 
own place the most beautiful, the best and the most 
appropriate. But this Anaxagoras would not have 
dared to assert in any individual case, to him the ex- 
isting world was not even the most conceivably per- 
fect world, for he saw everything originate out of 
everything, and he found the segregation of the sub- 
stances through the Nous complete and done with, 
neither at the end of the filled space of the world 
nor in the individual beings. For his understand- 
ing it was sufficient that he had found a motion, 
which, by simple continued action could create the 
visible order out of a chaos mixed through and 
through; and he took good care not to put the 
question as to the Why? of the motion, as to the 
rational purpose of motion. For if the Nous had 
to fulfil by means of motion a purpose innate in the 


noumenal essence, then it was no longer in Its free 
will to commence the motion at any chance time; 
in so far as the Nous is eternal, It had also to be 
determined eternally by this purpose, and then no 
point of time could have been allowed to exist in 
which motion was still lacking, indeed it would have 
been logically forbidden to assume a starting point 
for motion : whereby again the conception of original 
chaos, the basis of the whole Anaxagorean inter- 
pretation of the world would likewise have become 
logically impossible. In order to escape such diffi- 
culties, which teleology creates, Anaxagoras had 
always to emphasise and asseverate that the Mind 
has free will ; all Its actions, including that of the 
primal motion, were actions of the "free will," where- 
as on the contrary after that primeval moment the 
whole remaining world was shaping itself in a strictly 
determined, and more precisely, mechanically deter- 
mined form. That absolutely free will however can 
be conceived only as purposeless, somewhat after 
the fashion of children's play or the artist's bent 
for play. It is an error to ascribe to Anaxagoras 
the common confusion of the teleologist, who, mar- 
velling at the extraordinary appropriateness, at the 
agreement of the parts with the whole, especially in 
the realm of the organic, assumes that that which 
exists for the intellect had also come into existence 
through intellect, and that that which man brings 
about only under the guidance of the idea of purpose, 
must have been brought about by Nature through 
reflection and ideas of purpose. (Schopenhauer, 
"The World As Will And Idea," vol.ii., SecondBook, 
chap. 26 : On Teleology). Conceived in the manner 


of Anaxagoras, however, the order and appropriate- 
ness of things on the contrary is nothing but the im- 
mediate result of a bHnd mechanical motion ; and 
only in order to cause this motion, in order to get 
for once out of the dead-rest of the Chaos, Anaxa- 
goras assumed the free-willed Nous who depends 
only on Itself He appreciated in the Nous just 
the very quality of being a thing of chance, a chance 
agent, therefore of being able to act unconditioned, 
undetermined, guided neither by causes nor by 

Notes for a Continuation 

(Early Part of 1873) 


That this total conception of the Anaxagorean 
doctrine must be right, is proved most clearly by 
the way in which the successors of Anaxagoras, 
the Agrigentine Empedocles and the atomic teacher 
Democritus in their counter-systems actually criti- 
cised and improved that doctrine. The method of 
this critique is more than anything a continued 
renunciation in that spirit of natural science men- 
tioned above, the law of economy applied to the 
interpretation of nature. That hypothesis, which 
explains the existing world with the smallest ex- 
penditure of assumptions and means is to have pre- 
ference : for in such a hypothesis is to be found the 
least amount of arbitrariness, and in it free play 
with possibilities is prohibited. Should there be 
two hypotheses which both explain the world, then 
a strict test must be applied as to which of the two 
better satisfies that demand of economy. He who 
can manage this explanation with the simpler and 
more known forces, especially the mechanical ones, 
he who deduces the existing edifice of the world out 
of the smallest possible number of forces, will always 
be preferred to him who allows the more compli- 
cated and less-known forces, and these moreover in 
greater number, to carry on a world-creating play. 
So then we see Empedocles endeavouring to remove 
the superfluity of hypotheses from the doctrine of 



The first hypothesis which falls as unnecessary is 
that of the Anaxagorean Nous, for its assumption 
is much too complex to explain anything so simple 
as motion. After all it is only necessary to explain 
the two kinds of motion : the motion of a body 
towards another, and the motion away from another. 

If our present Becoming is a segregating, although 
not a complete one, then Empedocles asks : what 
prevents complete segregation ? Evidently a force 
works against it, i.e., a latent motion of attraction. 

Further : in order to explain that Chaos, a force 
must already have been at work ; a movement is 
necessary to bring about this complicated entangle- 

Therefore periodical preponderance of the one 
and the other force is certain. They are opposites. 

The force of attraction is still at work ; for other- 
wise there would be no Things at all, everything 
would be segregated. 

This is the actual fact : two kinds of motion. 
The Nous does not explain them. On the con- 
trary. Love and Hatred ; indeed we certainly see 
that these move as well as that the Nous moves. 

Now the conception of the primal state under- 
goes a change : it is the most blessed. With Anaxa- 
goras it was the chaos before the architectural work, 
the heap of stones as it were upon the building site. 

Empedocles had conceived the thought of a tan- 
gential force originated by revolution and working 



against gravity ("de coelo," i., p. 284), Schopen- 
hauer, " W. A. W.," ii. 390. 

He considered the continuation of the circular 
movement according to Anaxagoras impossible. It 
would result in a whirls i.e., the contrary of ordered 

If the particles were infinitely mixed, pell-mell, 
then one would be able to break asunder the bodies 
without any exertion of power,they would not cohere 
or hold together, they would be as dust. 

The forces, which press the atoms against one 
another, and which give stability to the mass, Em- 
pedocles calls " Love." It is a molecular force, a 
constitutive force of the bodies. 

Against Anaxagoras. 

1. The Chaos already presupposes motion. 

2. Nothing prevented the complete segregation. 

3. Our bodies would be dust-forms. How can 
motion exist, if there are not counter-motions in all 
bodies ? 

4. An ordered permanent circular motion impos- 
sible ; only a whirl. He assumes the whirl itself to 
be an effect of the vet/cos. — -aTroppoiat. How do distant 
things operate on one another, sun upon earth ? If 
everything were still in a whirl, that would be im- 
possible. Therefore at least two moving powers : 
which must be inherent in Things. 

5. Why infinite ovra ? Transgression of experi- 
ence. Anaxagoras meant the chemical atoms. 
Empedocles tried the assumption of four kinds of 


chemical atoms. He took the aggregate states to 
be essential, and heat to be co-ordinated. There- 
fore the aggregate states through repulsion and 
attraction ; matter in four forms. 

6. The periodical principle is necessary. 

7. With the living beings Empedocles will also 
deal still on the same principle. Here also he 
denies purposiveness. His greatest deed. With 
Anaxagoras a dualism. 

The symbolism of sexual love. Here as in the 
Platonic fable the longing after Oneness shows itself, 
and here, likewise, is shown that once a greater unity 
already existed ; were this greater unity established, 
then this would again strive after a still greater one. 
The conviction of the unity of everything living 
guarantees that once there was an immense Living 
Something, of which we are pieces ; that is probably 
the Sphairos itself He is the most blessed deity. 
Everything was connected only through love, there- 
fore in the highest degree appropriate. Love has been 
torn to pieces and splintered by hatred, love has been 
divided into her elements and killed — bereft of life. 
In the whirl no living individuals originate. Even- 
tually everything is segregated and now our period 
begins. (He opposes the Anaxagorean Primal Mix- 
ture by a Primal Discord.) Love, blind as she is, 
with furious haste again throws the elements one 
against another endeavouring to see whether she can 
bring them back to life again or not. Here and there 
she is successful. It continues. A presentiment 
originates in the living beings, that they are to strive 


(notes for a continuation) 

after still higher unions than home and the primal 
state. Eros. It is a terrible crime to kill life, for 
thereby one works back to the Primal Discord. 
Some day everything will be again one single life, 
the most blissful state. 

The Pythagorean-orphean doctrine re-interpreted 
in the manner of natural science. Empedocles con- 
sciously masters both means of expression, therefore 
he is the first rhetor. Political aims. 

The double-nature — the agonal and the loving, the 

Attempt of the Hellenic total reform. 

All inorganic matter has originated out of organic, 
it is dead organic matter. Corpse and man. 


The greatest possible simplification of the hypo- 

1. There is motion, therefore vacuum, therefore 
a " Non- Existent." Thinking is motion. 

2. If there is a " Non-Existent " it must be indi- 
visible, i.e., absolutely filled. Division is only ex- 
plicable in case of empty spaces and pores. The 
" Non-Existent " alone is an absolutely porous thing. 

3. The secondary qualities of matter, vd/t<f), not of 

4. Establishment of the primary qualities of 
the aro/ua. Wherein homogeneous, wherein hetero- 
geneous ? 

5. The aggregate-states of Empedocles (four ele- 


ments) presuppose only the homogeneous atoms, 
they themselves cannot therefore be 6vTa. 

6. Motion is connected indissolublywith theatoms, 
effect of gravity. Epicur. Critique : what does gravity 
signify in an infinite vacuum ? 

7. Thinking is the motion of the fire-atoms. Soul, 
life, perceptions of the senses. 

Value of materialism and its embarrassment. 
Plato and Democritus. 

The hermit-like homeless noble searcher for truth. 
Democritus and the Pythagoreans together find 
the basis of natural sciences. 

What are the causes which have interrupted a 
flourishing science of experimental physics in anti- 
quity after Democritus ? 


Anaxagoras has taken from Heraclitus the idea 
that in every Becoming and in every Being the 
opposites are together. 

He felt strongly the contradiction that a body 
has many qualities and he pulverised it in the belief 
that he had now dissolved it into its true qualities. 

Plato : first Heraclitean, later Sceptic : Every- 
thing, even Thinking, is in a state of flux. 

Brought through Socrates to the permanence of 
the good, the beautiful. 

These assumed as entitative. 

All generic ideals partake of the idea of the good, 
the beautiful, and they too are therefore entitative, 



being (as the soul partakes of the idea of Life). 
The idea is formless. 

Through Pythagoras' metempsychosis has been 
answered the question : how we can know anything 
about the ideas. 

Plato's end : scepticism in Parmenides. Refuta- 
tion of ideology. 


Greek thought during the tragic age is fessimistic 
or artistically optimistic. 

Their judgment about life implies more. 

The One, flight from the Becoming. Aut unity, 
aut artistic play. 

Deep distrust of reality : nobody assumes a good 
god, who has made everything optime. 

(Pythagoreans, religious sect. 
Democritus : the world without moral 
and aesthetic meaning, pessimism of 
If one placed a tragedy before all these, the three 
former would see in it the mirror of the fatality 
of existence, Parmenides a transitory appearance, 
Heraclitus and Anaxagoras an artistic edifice and 
image of the world-laws, Democritus the result of 


With Socrates Optimism begins, an optimism no 
longer artistic, with teleology and faith in the good 
god ; faith in the enlightened good man. Dissolu- 
tion of the instincts. 

Socrates breaks with the hitherto prevailing know- 
ledge and culture ; he intends returning to the old 
citizen-virtue and to the State. 

Plato dissociates himself from the State, when 
he observes that the State has become identical 
with the new Culture. 

The Socratic scepticism is a weapon against the 
hitherto prevailing culture and knowledge. 

On Truth and Falsity in their 
Ultramoral Sense 


In some remote corner of the universe, effused into 
innumerable solar-systems, there was once a star 
upon which clever animals invented cognition. It 
was the haughtiest, most mendacious moment in 
the history of this world, but yet only a moment. 
After Nature had taken breath awhile the star con- 
gealed and the clever animals had to die. — Someone 
might write a fable after this style, and yet he would 
not have illustrated sufficiently, how wretched, i 
shadow-like, transitory, purposeless and fanciful 1 
the human intellect appears in Nature. There were 
eternities during which this intellect did not exist, 
and when it has once more passed away there will 
be nothing to show that it has existed. For this 
intellect is not concerned with any further mission 
transcending the sphere of human life. No, it is 
purely human and none but its owner and procreator 
regards it so pathetically as to suppose that the 
world revolves around it. If, however, we and the 
gnat could understand each other we should learn 
that even the gnat swims through the air with the 
same pathos, and feels within itself the flying centre 
of the world. Nothing in Nature is so bad or so 
insignificant that it will not, at the smallest puff of 
that force cognition, immediately swell up like a 
balloon, and just as a mere porter wants to have his 
admirer, so the very proudest man, the philosopher, 



imagines he sees from all sides the eyes of the uni- 
verse telescopically directed upon his actions and 

It is remarkable that this is accomplished by the 
intellect, which after all has been given to the most 
unfortunate, the most delicate, the most transient 
beings only as an expedient, in order to detain them 
for a moment in existence, from which without that 
extra-gift they would have every cause to flee as 
swiftly as Lessing's son.* That haughtiness con- 
nected with cognition and sensation, spreading 
blinding fogs before the eyes and over the senses 
of men, deceives itself therefore as to the value of 
existence owing to the fact that it bears within it- 
self the most flattering evaluation of cognition. Its 
most general effect is deception ; but even its most 
particular effects have something of deception in 
their nature. 

The intellect, as a means for the preservation of 
the individual, develops its chief power in dissimu- 
lation ; for it is by dissimulation that the feebler, and 

* The German poet, Lessing, had been married for just 
a little over one year to Eva Konig. A son was born 
and died the same day, and the mother's life was despaired 
of. In a letter to his friend Eschenburg the poet wrote : 
"... and I lost him so unwillingly, this son ! For he had 
so much understanding ! so much understanding ! Do not 
suppose that the few hours of fatherhood have made me an 
ape of a father ! I know what I say. Was it not under- 
standing, that they had to drag him into the world with a 
pair of forceps ? that he so soon suspected the evil of this 
world ? Was it not understanding, that he seized the first 
opportunity to get away from it ? . . . " 

Eva Konig died a week later. — Tr. 


less robust individuals preserve themselves, since it 
has been denied them to fight the battle of existence 
with horns or the sharp teeth of beasts of prey. In 
man this art of dissimulation reaches its acme of 
perfection : in him deception, flattery, falsehood and 
fraud, slander, display, pretentiousness, disguise, 
cloaking convention, and acting to others and to 
himself in short, the continual fluttering to and fro 
around the one flame — Vanity : all these things are 
so much the rule, and the law, that few things are 
more incomprehensible than the way in which an 
honest and pure impulse to truth could have arisen 
among men. They are deeply immersed in illusions 
and dream-fancies ; their eyes glance only over the 
surface of things and see " forms " ; their sensation 
nowhere leads to truth, but contents itself with re- 
ceiving stimuli and, so to say, with playing hide-and- 
seek on the back of things. In addition to that, at 
night man allows his dreams to lie to him a whole 
life-time long, without his moral sense ever trying 
to prevent them ; whereas men are said to exist who 
by the exercise of a strong will have overcome the 
habit of snoring. What indeed does man know 
about himself? Oh ! that he could but once see 
himself complete, placed as it were in an illumin- 
ated glass-case ! Does not nature keep secret from 
him most things, even about his body, e.g., the con- 
volutions of the intestines, the quick flow of the 
blood-currents, the intricate vibrations of the fibres, 
so as to banish and lock him up in proud, delusive 
knowledge ? Nature threw away the key ; and woe 
to the fateful curiosity which might be able for a 
moment to look out and down through a crevice in 


the chamber of consciousness, and discover that man, 
indifferent to his own ignorance, is resting on the 
pitiless, the greedy, the insatiable, the murderous, 
and, as it were, hanging in dreams on the back of a 
tiger. Whence, in the wide world, with this state of 
affairs, arises the impulse to truth ? 

As far as the individual tries to preserve himself 
against other individuals, in the natural state of 
things he uses the intellect in most cases only for dis- 
simulation ; since, however, man both from necessity 
and boredom wants to exist socially and gregariously, 
he must needs make peace and at least endeavour 
to cause the greatest bellum omnium, contra om.nes to 
disappear from his world. This first conclusion of 
peace brings with it a something which looks like the 
first step towards the attainment of that enigmatical 
bent for truth. For that which henceforth is to be 
"truth" is now fixed ; that is to say, a uniformly valid 
and binding designation of things is invented and 
the legislature of language also gives the first laws 
of truth : since here, for the first time, originates the 
fontrast between truth and falsity. The liar uses 
the valid designations, the words, in order to make 
the unreal appear as real ; e.g., he says, " I am rich," 
whereas the right designation for his state would be 
" poor." He abuses the fixed conventions by con- 
venient substitution or even inversion of terms. If 
he does this in a selfish and moreover harmful 
fashion, society will no longer trust him but will 
even exclude him. In this way men avoid not so 
much being defrauded, but being injured by fraud. 
At bottom, at this juncture too, they hate not decep- 
tion, but the evil, hostile consequences of certain 


species of deception. 'And it is in a similarly 
limited sense only that man desires truth : he covets 
the agreeable, life-preserving consequences of truth ; 
he is indifferent towards pure, ineffective know- 
ledge ; he is even inimical towards truths which 
possibly might prove harmful or destroying. And, 
moreover, what after all are those conventions op 
language? Are they possibly products of know- 
ledge, of the love of truth ; do the designations 
and the things coincide ? Is language the adequate 
expression of all realities ? 

Only by means of forgetfulness can man ever 
arrive at imagining that he possesses " truth " in 
that degree just indicated. If he does not mean to 
content himself with truth in the shape of tautology, 
that is, with empty husks, he will always obtain 
illusions instead of truth. What is a word ? The 
expression of a nerve-stimulus in sounds. But to 
infer a cause outside us from the nerve-stimulus is 
already the result of a wrong and unjustifiable appli- 
cation of the proposition of causality. How should 
we dare, if truth with the genesis of language, if the 
point of view of certainty with the designations had 
alone been decisive ; how indeed should we dare to 
say : the stone is hard ; as if " hard " was known 
to us otherwise ; and not merely as an entirely sub- 
jective stimulus ! We divide things according to 
genders ; we designate the tree as masculine,* the 
plant as feminine :f what arbitrary metaphors! 
How far flown beyond the canon of certainty ! We 

* In German the tree—der Baum—\s masculine.— Tr. 
t In German the plant— die Pflanze—\s feminine.— Tr. 



speak of a "serpent";* the designation fits nothing 
but the sinuosity, and could therefore also apper- 
tain to the worm. What arbitrary demarcations! 
what one-sided preferences given sometimes to this, 
sometimes to that quality of a thing ! The different 
languages placed side by side show that with words 
truth or adequate expression matters little : for other- 
wise there would not be so many languages. The 
" Thing-in-itself " (it is just this which would be the 
pure ineffective truth) is also quite incomprehensible 
to the creator of language and not worth making 
' any great endeavour to obtain. He designates only 
the relations of things to men and for their expres- 
sion he calls to his help the most daring metaphors. 
A nerve-stimulus, first transformed into a percept 1 
First metaphor ! The percept again copied into 
a sound I Second metaphor ! And each time he 
leaps completely out of one sphere right into the 
midst of an entirely different one. One can imagine 
a man who is quite deaf and has never had a sensa- 
tion of tone and of music ; just as this man will 
possibly marvel at Chladni's sound figures in the 
sand, will discover their cause in the vibrations of 
the string, and will then proclaim that now he knows 
what man calls " tone " ; even so does it happen to 
us all with language. When we talk about trees, 
colours, snow and flowers, we believe we know some- 
thing about the things themselves, and yet we only 
possess metaphors of the things,and these metaphors 
do not in the least correspond to the original essen- 
tials. Just as the sound shows itself as a sand- 

* Cf. the German die Schlange and schlingen, the English 
serpent from the Latin serpere. — Tr. 


figure, in the same way the enigmatical x of the 
Thing-in-itself is seen first as nerve-stimulus, then 
as percept, and finally as sound. At any rate the 
genesis of language did not therefore proceed on 
logical lines, and the whole material in which and 
with which the man of truth, the investigator, the 
philosopher works and builds, originates, if not 
from Nephelococcygia, cloud-land, at any rate not 

from the essence of things. , 

Let us especially think about the formation of 
ideas. Every word becomes at once an idea not 
by having, as one might presume, to serve as a 
reminder for the original experience happening but 
once and absolutely individualised, to which experi- 
ence such word owes its origin, no, but by having 
simultaneously to fit innumerable, more or less 
similar (which really means never equal, therefore 
altogether unequal) cases. /Every idea originates 
through equating the unequal. As certainly as no 
one leaf is exactly similar to any other, so certain 
is it that the idea " leaf" has been formed through 
an arbitrary omission of these individual differences, 
through a forgetting of the differentiating qualities, 
and this idea now awakens the notion that in 
nature there is, besides the leaves, a something 
called the "leaf," perhaps a primal form accord- 
ing to which all leaves were woven, drawn, accur- 
ately measured, coloured, crinkled, painted, but by 
unskilled hands, so that no copy had turned out 
correct and trustworthy as a true copy of the primal 
form. We call a man " honest " ; we ask, why 
has he acted so honestly to-day ? Our customary 
answer runs, " On account of his honesty." The 


Honesty ! That means again : the " leaf " is the cause 
of the leaves. We really and truly do not know 
anything at all about an essential quality which 
might be called the honesty, but we do know about 
numerous individualised, and therefore unequal 
actions, which we equate by omission of the un- 
equal, and now designate as honest actions ; finally 
out of them we formulate a qualitas occulta with 
the name " Honesty." The disregarding of the indi- 
vidual and real furnishes us with the idea, as it like- 
wise also gives us the form ; whereas nature knows 
of no forms and ideas, and therefore knows no species 
but only an x, to us inaccessible and indefinable. 
For our antithesis of individual and species is anthro- 
pomorphic too and does not come from the essence ' 
of things, although on the other hand we do not dare 
to say that it does not correspond to it ; for that 
would be a dogmatic assertion and as such just as 
undemonstrable as its contrary. 

What therefore is truth ? A mobile army of meta- 
phors, metonymies, anthropomorphisms : in short a 
sum of human relations which became poetically and 
rhetorically intensified, metamorphosed, adorned, 
and after long usage seem to a nation fixed, canonic 
and binding ; truths are illusions of which one has for- 
gotten that they are illusions ; worn-out metaphors 
which have become powerless to affect the senses ; 
coins which have their obverse effaced and now are 
no longer of account as coins but merely as metal. 

Still we do not yet know whence the impulse to 
truth comes, for up to now we have heard only about 
the obligation which society imposes in order to 
exist : to be truthful, that is, to use the usual meta- 


phors, therefore expressed morally : we have heard \ 
only about the obligation to lie according to a fixed 
convention, to lie gregariously in a style binding for 
all. Now man of course forgets that matters are going 
thus with him ; he therefore lies in that fashion pointed 
out unconsciously and according to habits of cen- 
turies' standing — and by tkzs very unconsciousness, by 
this very forgetting, he arrives at a sense for truth. 
Through this feeling of being obliged to designate 
one thing as " red," another as " cold," a third one as 
" dumb," awakes a moral emotion relating to truth. 
Out of the antithesis " liar " whom nobody trusts, 
whom all exclude, man demonstrates to himself the 
ve nerable ness, reliability, usefulness of truth. Now as 
a " rational" belnghe submitFhis actions to the sway 
of abstractions ; he no longer suffers himself to be 
carried away by sudden impressions, by sensations, 
he first generalises all these impressions into paler, ' 
cooler ideas, in order to attach to them the ship of his 
life and actions. Everything which makes man stand <" 
out in bold relief against the animal depends on this 
faculty of volatilising the concrete metaphors into a 
schema, and therefore resolving a perception into an 
idea. For within the range of those schemata a 
something becomes possible that never could succeed 
under the first perceptual impressions : to build up 
a pyramidal order with castes and grades, to create 
a new world of laws, privileges, sub-orders, delimita- 
tions, which now stands opposite the other perceptual 
world of first impressions and assumes the appear- 
ance of being the more fixed, general, known, human 
of the two and therefore the regulating and impera- 
tive one. Whereas every metaphor of perception is 


individual and without its equal and therefore knows 
ihow to escape all attempts to classify it, the great 
"edifice of ideas shows the rigid regularity of a Roman 
Columbarium and in logic breathes forth the stern- 
ness and coolness which we find in mathematics. He 
who has been breathed upon by this coolness will 
scarcely believe, that the idea too, bony and hexa- 
hedral, and permutable as a die, remains however only 
as the residuum of a metaphor, and that the illusion 
of the artistic metamorphosis of a nerve-stimulus 
into percepts is, if not the mother, then thegr-and-- 
mother of every idea. Now in this^^ame of .dice, 
/ " Truth" means to use every die as it is designated, to 
' count its points carefully, to form exact classifications, 
and never lo violate the order of castes and the se- 
quences of rank. Just as the Romans and Etruscans 
for their benefit cut up the sky by means of strong 
mathematical lines and banned a god as it were into 
a templum, into a space limited in this fashion, so 
every nation has above its head such a sky of ideas 
divided up mathematically, and it understands the 
demand for truth to mean that every conceptual god 
is to be looked for only in his own sphere. One may 
here well admire man, who succeeded in piling up an 
infinitelycomplexdomeof ideas on amovable founda- 
tion and as it were on running water, as a powerful 
genius of architecture. Of course in order to obtain 
hold on such a foundation it must be as an edifice 
piled up out of cobwebs, so fragile, as to be carried 
away by the waves : so firm, as not to be blown 
asunder by every wind. In this way man as an 
architectural genius rises high above the bee ; she 
builds with wax, which she brings together out of 


nature ; he with the much more delicate material of 
ideas, which he must first manufacture within him- 
self He is very much to be admired here — but not 
on account of his impulse for truth, his bent for pure 
cognition of things. M somebody hides a thing be- 
hind a bush, seeks it again and finds it in the self- 
same place, then there is not much to boast of, re- 
specting this seeking and finding ; thus, however, 
matters stand with the seeking and finding of "truth" 
within the realm of reason. If I make the definition 
of the mammal and then declare after inspecting a 
camel, " Behold a mammal," then no doubt a truth 
is brought to light thereby, but it is of very limited 
value, I mean it is anthropomorphic through and 
through, and does not contain one single point which 
is " true-in-itself," real and universally valid, apart 
from man. The seeker after such truths seeks at 
the bottom only the metamorphosis of the world in 
man, he strives for an understanding of the world as 
a human-like thing and by his battling gains at best 
the feeling of an assimilation. Similarly, as the 
astrologer contemplated the stars in the service of 
man and in connection with their happiness and 
unhappiness, such a seeker contemplates the whole 
world as related to man, as the infinitely protracted 
echo of an original sound : man ; as the multiplied 
copy of the one arch-type : man. His procedure is ~ 
to apply man as the measure of all things, whereby 
he starts from the error of believing that he has these 
things immediately before him as pure objects. He 
therefore forgets that the original metaphors of per- 
ception are metaphors, and takes them for the things^ 


Only by forgetting that primitive world of meta- 
phors, only by the congelation and coagulation of an 
original mass of similes and percepts pouring forth 
as a fiery liquid out of the primal faculty of human 
fancy, only by the invincible faith, that this sun, this 
window, this table is a truth in itself: in short only' 
by the fact that man forgets himself as subject, and 
what is more as an artistically creating subject : only 
by all this does he live with some repose, safety and 
consequence. If he were able to get out of the prison 
walls of this faith, even for an instant only, his " self- 
consciousness " would be destroyed at once. Already 
it costs him some trouble to admit to himself that the 
insect and the bird perceive a world different from his 
own, and that the question, which of the two world- 
perceptions is more accurate, is quite a senseless one, 
since to decide this question it would be necessary 
to apply the standard of right perception, i.e., to apply 
a standard which does not exist. On the whole it 
seems to me that the "right perception" — which 
would mean the; adequate expression of an object in 
the subject — is a nonentity full of contradictions : 
for between two utterly different spheres, as between^ 
subject and object, there is no causality, no accuracy, \ 
no expression, but at the utmost an cgj^^g/zira/ relation, \ 
I mean a suggestive metamorphosis, a stammering 
translation into quite a distinct foreign language, for 
which purpose however there is needed at any rate 
an intermediate sphere, an intermediate force, freely 
composing and freely inventing. The word " phe- 
nomenon " contains many seductions, and on that 
account I avoid it as much as possible, for it is not 
true that the essence of things appears in the empiric 


world. A painter who had no hands and wanted to 
express the picture distinctly present to his mind by 
the agency of song, would still reveal much more 
with this permutation of spheres, than the empiric 
world reveals about the essence of things. The very^ 
relation of a nerve-stimulus to the produced percept 
is in itself no necessary one ; but if the same percept 
has been reproduced millions of times and has been 
the inheritance of many successive generations of 
man, and in the end appears each time to all mankind 
as the result of the same cause, then it attains finally 
for man the same importance as if it were the unique, 
necessary percept and as if that relation between 
the original nerve-stimulus and the percept pro- 
duced were a close relation of causality: just as 
a dream eternally repeated, would be perceived and 
judged as though real. But the congelation and 
coagulation of a metaphor does not at all guaran- 
tee the necessity and exclusive justification of that 

Surely every human being who is at home with 
such contemplations has felt a deep distrust against 
any idealism of that kind, as often as he has distinctly 
convinced himself of the eternal rigidity, omni- 
presence, and infallibility of nature's laws : he has 
arrived at the conclusion that as far as we can pene- 
trate the heights of the telescopic and the depths of 
the microscopic world, everything is quite secure, 
complete, infinite, determined, and continuous. 
Science will have to dig in these shafts eternally 
and successfully and all things found are sure to 
have to harmonise and not to contradict one another. 
How little does this resemble a product of fancy, for 


if it were one it would necessarily betray somewhere 
its nature of appearance and unreality. Against this 
it may be objected in the first place that if each of us 
had for himself a different sensibility, if we ourselves 
were only able to perceive sometimes as a bird, some- 
times as a worm, sometimes as a plant, or if one of 
us saw the same stimulus as red, another as blue, if 
a third person even perceived it as a tone, then no- 
body would talk of such an orderliness of nature, but 
would conceive of her only as an extremely subjec- 
tive structure. Secondly, what is, for us in general, a 
law of nature ? It is not known in itself but only in 

-its effects, that is to say in its relations to other laws 
of nature, which again are known to us only as sums 
of relations. Therefore all these relations refer only ■ 
one to another and are absolutely incomprehensible 
to us in their essence; only that which we add: time, , 

I space, i.e., relations of sequence and numbers, are 

I really known to us in them. Everything wonderful , 
however, that we marvel at in the laws of nature, 
everything that demands an explanation and might 
seduce us into distrusting idealism, lies really and 
solely in the mathematical rigour and inviolability 
of the conceptions of time and space. These how- 
ever we produce within ourselves and throw them 
forth with that necessity with which the spider spins ; 
since we are compelled to conceive all things under 
these forms only, then it is no longer wonderful that 
in all things we actually conceive none but these 
forms : for they all must bear within themselves the 

^ laws of number, and this very idea of number is the 
most marvellous in all things. All obedience to law 

Vwhich impresses us so forcibly in the orbits of stars 


and in chemical processes coincides at the bottom 
with those qualities which we ourselves attach to 
jthose things, so that it is we who thereby make the 
impression upon ourselves. Whence it clearly follows 
that that artistic formation of metaphors, with which 
every sensation in us begins, already presupposes 
those forms,and is therefore only consummated with- 
in them ; only out of the persistency of these primal 
forms the possibility explains itself, how afterwards - 
out of the metaphors themselves a structure of ideas , 
could again be compiled. For the latter is an imita- 
tion of the relations of time, space and number in 
the realm of metaphors. ^ 

As we saw, it is language which has worked origin- 
ally at the construction of ideas ; in later times it is 
science. Just as the bee works at the same time at 
the cells and fills them with honey, thus science works 
irresistibly at that great columbarium of ideas, the 
cemeteryof perceptions, builds ever newer and higher 
storeys ; supports, purifies, renews the old cells, and 
endeavours above all to fill that gigantic frame- 
work and to arrange within it the whole of the em-^ 
piric world, i.e., the anthropomorphic world. And ' 
as the man of action binds his life to reason and its 
ideas, in order to avoid being swept away and losing 
himself, so the seeker after truth builds his hut close 
to the towering edifice of science in order to collabor- . 
ate with it and to find protection. And he needs pro- ' 
tection. For there are awful powers which continu- 
ally press upon him, and which hold out against 
the " truth " of science " truths " fashioned in quite 


another way, bearing devices of the most hetero- 
geneous character. 

That impulse towards the formation of metaphors, 
that fundamental impulse of man, which we cannot 
reason away for one moment — for thereby we should 
reason away man himself — is in truth not defeated 
nor even subdued by the fact that out of its evapor- 
ated products, the ideas, a regular and rigid new 
world has been built as a stronghold for it. This 
impulse seeks for itself a new realm of action and 
another river-bed, and finds it in Mytkos and more 
"generally in Art. This impulse constantly confuses 
the rubrics and cells of the ideas, by putting up new 
figures of speech, metaphors, metonymies ; it con- 
stantly shows its passionate longing for shaping the 
existing world of waking man as motley, irregular, 
inconsequentially incoherent, attractive, and eter- 
nally new as the world of dreams is. For indeed, 
waking vnzx\perse is only clear about his being awake 
through the rigid and orderly woof of ideas, and it 
is for this very reason that he sometimes comes to 
believe that he was dreaming when that woof of 
ideas has for a moment been torn by Art. Pascal is 
quite right, when he asserts, that if the same dream 
came to us every night we should be just as much 
occupied by it as by the things which we see every 
day ; to quote his words, " If an artisan were certain 
that he would dream every night for fully twelve 
hours that he was a king, I believe that he would be 
just as happy as a king who dreams every night for 
twelve hours that he is an artisan." The wide-awake 
day of a people mystically excitable, let us say of 
the earlier Greeks, is in fact through the continually- 


working wonder, which the mythos presupposes, 
more akin to the dream than to the day of the thinker 
sobered by science. If every tree may at some time 
talk as a nymph, or a god under the disguise of a 
bull, carry away virgins, if the goddess Athene her- 
self be suddenly seen as, with a beautiful team, she 
drives, accompanied by Pisistratus, through the mar- 
kets of Athens — and every honest Athenian did be- 
lieve this — at any moment, as in a dream, everything 
is possible ; and all nature swarms around man as 
if she were nothing but the masquerade of the gods, 
who found it a huge joke to deceive man by assuming 
all possible forms. 

Man himself, however, has an invincible tendency 
to let himself be deceived,and he is like one enchanted 
with happiness when the rhapsodist narrates to him 
epic romances in such a way that they appear real 
or when the actor on the stage makes the king appear 
more kingly than reality shows him. Intellect, that - 
master of dissimulation, is free and dismissed from 
his service as slave, so long as It is able to deceive 
without injuring, and then It celebrates Its Satur- 
nalia. Never is It richer, prouder, more luxuriant, 
more skilful and daring ; with a creator's delight It 
throws metaphors into confusion, shifts the boundary- 
stones of the abstractions, so that for instance 1 1 desig- 
nates the stream as the mobile way which carries man 
to that place whither he would otherwise go. Now It 
has thrown off Its shoulders the emblem of seryitude. 
Usually with gloomy officiousness It endeavours to 
point out the way to a poor individual coveting exist- 
ence, and It fares forth for plunder and booty like 
a servant for his master, but now It Itself has be- 


come a master and may wipe from Its countenance 
the expression of indigence. Whatever It now does, 
compared with Its former doings, bears within itself 
dissimulation, just as Its former doings bore the 
character of distortion. It copies human life, but 
takes it for a good thing and seems to rest quite 
satisfied with it. That enormous framework and 
hoarding of ideas, by clinging to which needy man 
saves himself through life, is to the freed intellect 
only a scaffolding and a toy for Its most daring feats, 
and when It smashes it to pieces, throws it into 
confusion, and then puts it together ironically, pair- 
ing the strangest, separating the nearest items, then 
It manifests that It has no use for those makeshifts 
of misery, and that It is now no longer led by ideas 
but by intuitions. From these intuitions no regular 
road leads into the land of the spectral schemata, 
the abstractions ; for them the word is not made, 
when man sees them he is dumb, or speaks in for- 
bidden metaphors and in unheard-of combinations 
of ideas, in order to correspond creatively with the 
impression of the powerful present intuition at least 
by destroying and jeering at the old barriers of ideas. 
There are ages, when the rational and the intui- 
tive man stand side by side, the one full of fear of the 
intuition, the other full of scorn for the abstraction ; 
the latter just as irrational as the former is inartistic. 
Both desire to rule over life ; the one by knowing 
how to meet the most important needs with foresight, 
prudence, regularity; the other as an "over-joyous" 
hero by ignoring those needs and taking that life 
only as real which simulates appearance and beauty. 
Wherever intuitive man, as for instance in the earlier 


history of Greece, brandishes his weapons more 
powerfully and victoriously than his opponent, there 
under favourable conditions, a culture can develop 
and art can establish her rule over life. That dis- 
sembling, that denying of neediness, that splendour 
of metaphorical notions and especially that direct- 
ness of dissimulation accompany all utterances of 
such a life. Neither the house of man, nor his way 
of walking, nor his clothing, nor his earthen jug sug- 
gest that necessity invented them ; it seems as if they 
all were intended as the expressions of a sublime 
happiness, an Olympic cloudlessness, and as it were 
a playing at seriousness. Whereas the man guided 
by ideas and abstractions only wards off misfortune 
by means of them, without even enforcing for him- 
self happiness out of the abstractions ; whereas he 
strives after the greatest possible freedom from pains, 
the intuitive man dwelling in the midst of culture 
has from his intuitions a harvest : besides the ward- 
ing off of evil, he attains a continuous in-pouring of 
enlightenment, enlivenment and redemption. Of 
course when he does suffer, he suffers more : and he 
even suffers more frequently since he cannot learn 
from experience, but again and again falls into the 
same ditch into which he has fallen before. I n suffer- 
ing he is just as irrational as in happiness ; he cries 
aloud and finds no consolation. How different 
matters are in the same misfortune with the Stoic, 
taught by experience and ruling himself by ideas ! 
He who otherwise only looks for uprightness, truth, 
freedom from deceptions and shelter from ensnaring 
and sudden attack, in his misfortune performs the 
masterpiece of dissimulation, just as the other did 


in hW happiness ; he shows no twitching mobile 
human face but as it were a mask with dignified, 
harmonious features ; he does not cry out and does 
not even alter his voice ; when a heavy thundercloud 
bursts upon him, he wraps himself up in his cloak 
and with slow and measured step walks away from 
beneath it. 


Printed at The Darien Press, Edinburgh. 



First Complete and Authorised English Translation, in 18 Volumes. 

Edited by Dr OSCAR LEVY. 

I. THE BIRTH OF TRAGEDY. Translated by William 
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the Author's Sister, Portrait and Facsimile. [Second Edition. 


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lated, with Introduction, by Adrian Collins, M.A. 

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lation by T. Common, with Introduction by Mrs Foerster- 
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XII. BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL. Translated by Helen 

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Horace B. Samuel, M.A., with Introductory Note. 

XIV. THE WILL TO POWER, Vol. I. Translated, with 

Introduction, by A. M. Ludovici. [Second Edition. 

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